Ride to Malmo to rap wit’ Nelly


Expect laid-back, leather-jacket cool from this Deep South rapper. Whereas a decade ago Nelly would have commanded every chart he released into, his current focus is on smaller venues and allowing more country and funk groove influences into his performances. The fourth-biggest selling rap artist of all time has still got it – but ‘it’ has become so much more since his mainstream success.

The smoother, slicker production influences that Pharrell Williams had as half of the Neptunes on Nelly’s sound is obvious. It’s rap, yes, but it clearly takes cues from funk and reggae to make something much more appealing and pop-sounding. Nelly makes rap with an easy braggadocio, rather than coming from an aggressive, self-consciously urban core.

There’s something appealing about experiencing a huge name like Nelly perform his instantly recognisable songs and hearing a sound that’s still unique in rap or R&B even today. The recent re-emergence of Pharrell Williams or Chic’s Nile Rodgers sound much closer to Nelly than most current rap tracks.

Songs like ‘Dilemma’, ‘Ride Wit Me’ or the disco favourite ‘Hot In Here’ brim with funky bass and layered vocals, which work just as well live as recorded.

The intimate club feel of new Nelly shows these off much more effectively than massive arena tours and huge stages ever did.