Artist: NellyTitle: Sweat – SuitRating: 2 StarsReviewed by: Orisanmi Burton
Nelly’s Sweat Suit (Universal) is the latest double Hip-Hop CD (technically) to drop since 2Pac’s monumental All Eyes On Me started the trend. With few exceptions, most notably Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, the dual disc format in popular music has served no purpose, other than to break the pockets of prepubescent idol worshippers with substantial disposable income. In a new market where savvy consumers can legally preview and download only the songs they like via services such as the itunes Music Store and Napster, Hip-Hop fans are no longer forced to buy an album, let alone two. Double albums are a tough sell. But with nearly every song on this 24-track album boasting at least one well-known guest artist, Nelly is poised to join the platinum-plus double disc club.
Not to be outdone by Outkast’s genre-bending double solo project, Sweat and Suit are being marketed as two separate Nelly albums; Sweat as the fast and dirty album for the clubs and Suit as the laid-back R&B joint. Sweat starts off with “Heart of a Champion” using a beat interpolated from “Roundball”, a song better known as the theme song from the NBA Playoffs. The brief moment of nostalgia induced by the familiar melody is hampered when Nelly’s meager lyrical prowess is exposed with uninspired lines like “I’ve been dogfightin, scratchin and clawin on every height / Tryin to make you remember me like you Remember the Titans”. However, his many shortcomings as an artist can be overlooked on tracks like the Neptunes produced “Flap Your Wings”. It’s one of those guilty pleasures where the relentless rhythm and contagious hook displaces the need for content. The shameless use of the “panting on the hook” technique and the frequent recitation of Martin Lawrence’s line “sweat drippin’ all over your booody” didn’t hurt either.
The “Oh No He Didn’t” moment on the Suit album goes to “Over and Over”, a song for the “sensitive thugs” featuring country music singer Tim McGraw. In the years since LL Cool J’s timeless classic “I Need Love”, the rap ballad has taken many twists and turns. This one is a turn for the worst. The track sounds like co-producers Jayson Bridges and James Hargrove hit the demo button on their Casio. With Nelly and McGraw crooning throughout the four minute track, the song sounds like it should be on American Idol rather than a rap album. An unexpected highpoint to this otherwise bland offering is “River Don’t Runn” a dubbed out departure from Nelly’s typical club friendly sing along formula. With a fairly decent impersonation of a culture riddim, invigorated by Stephen Marley from the legendary first family of reggae, “River” works moderately well and is one of the best tracks on the album.
A notable tidbit is the absence of “Tip Drill” a song that received vehement protest from women at Spelman College who were appalled by its semi-pornographic video featuring Nelly swiping a credit card down the crack of a video chick’s ample posterior. But scrapping the controversial song doesn’t save Sweat or Suit from its monotonous regurgitation of sex and excess. Although Nelly fans will not be disappointed, the album sounds like a hastily thrown together Top 40 compilation. Nelly lacks the charisma necessary to sustain a double CD. There is undoubtedly some material that will invigorate dance floors and have urban radio on lock for months to come, but Nelly’s banal, assembly-line approach to creating music makes the overall listening experience of Sweat and Suit bland and forgettable.