Who is Nelly?
If you feel the room is suddenly getting hotter as you read this review, do not be concerned enough to check if you left the cooker on, but rather it could be down to the return of a rapper you are likely to be familiar with no matter what your interests due to his commercial success with singles such as, 'Hot in Herre'. Whilst previously Nelly has recorded four albums in four years, 'Brass Knuckles' comes after a four-year absence. Nelly is now physically a much bigger presence on the music industry, however does he carry his new bulked-up image over in his music? I'm sure a main worry with this project could be that Nelly would rather spend more time down the gym to produce 50 Cent-esque music rather than the shaking your tailfeather music many have came to love him for. If you still can't for the life of you remember who Nelly is, he is also well remembered for his 'Dilemma' collaboration with Kelly Rowland.
Although there has always been an immature undertone to Nelly's music, which has made it so much fun, with 'Brass Knuckles' he is now a grown-assed man at 33 years of age. Over the past years when he has not been making music, he has made acting appearances including 'The Longest Yard' and an episode of 'Crime Scene Investigation'. Cornell Haynes Jnr has worked with everyone from Janet Jackson to P Diddy since breaking on to the scene in 2000, so it does make you wonder what could be next on his mind.
How was 'Brass Knuckles' received?
The general reception for the album has been the same as how the general public have reacted towards the singles he has released from 'Brass Knuckles'. The album has actually been the least successful of Nelly's career, being the only album of his not to top the US Billboard (with the only exception being 'Sweat', however that was held off from the top spot its brother album 'Suit'). Currently the album has peaked at #3, and #20 in the United Kingdom. Coincidently, this makes it Nelly's least successful album on our shores as well despite us having a certain affection for Nelly that hasn't been matched in America. Nelly has previously peaked at #8 in the UK, showing what a disaster the performance of 'Brass Knuckles' has been.
Despite this, Nelly has already announced plans to release a collaboration album with T.I. next year. This is a similar idea to what Omarion and Bow Wow did last year, however I expect the end result shall be completely different.
What do I think?
01, U Ain't Him ft. Rick Ross (3.15), 2*
02, Hold Up ft. TI & LL Cool J (3.48), 2*
03, LA ft. Snoop Dogg & Nate Dogg (4.23), 2*
'U Ain't Him' is not an introduction track, but it does blast you head first into the brickwall that is the start of the album. Featuring Rick Ross, I understand he is a pretty big deal in the States despite having almost zero popularity with the UK. How Nelly thinks a track that wouldn't even pass off as background music is a good way to remind us he's back at the start of an album, I have no idea. 'Hold Up' sounds almost the same, although it features two very important rappers. TI is at the start of his career, whilst LL is at the end of his. The track is bland. 'LA' begins to make me feel that the brickwall has collapsed under the pressure of my head, and we're beginning to get to the easy-listening tracks that have made Nelly so famous. Snoop Dogg's presence in a track isn't well received by me in 2008, I think most people have grown out of Snoop by now, but Nelly's take on Los Angeles is getting along the right lines.
04, Long Night ft. Usher (3.21), 2*
05, Lie ft. St Lunatics (4.26)
06, Party People ft. Fergie (4.04), 3*
I was genuinely excited by the idea of an Usher collaboration on the album, although I guess when all the featured artists have been so bad up to this point you learn not to get overly excited. Unfortunately, this track sums up exactly where Nelly and Usher's careers are at. 'Here I Stand' was a disappointment on the whole, whilst there has been nothing yet on 'Brass Knuckles' to prove that Nelly can still hang with the likes of Lil Wayne. Maybe I have been living under a rock when it comes to the early days of Nelly's career, but St Lunatics are actually the rap group that Nelly was a part of before they hit the big time and he was taken on as a solo artist. Other members have had their own piece of controversy, with member City Spud being sentenced to 10 years in prison.
07, Self Esteem ft. Chuck D (3.37)
08, Body on Me ft. Akon & Ashanti (3.31), 4*
09, Stepped on My J'z ft. Ciara & JD (4.40), 4*
10, Let It Go Lil Mama ft. Pharrell Williams (4.22)
11, One and Only (4.19)
12, Chill ft. St Lunatics (5.42)
13, Who F*cks wit Me ft. Avery Storm (4.08)
14, Ucud Getit ft. Gucci Mane & R Kelly (4.28)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 U Ain't Him - Nelly, Rick Ross
2 Hold Up - Nelly, LL Cool J, T. I.
3 LA - Nelly, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg
4 Long Night - Nelly, Usher
5 Lie - Nelly, St. Lunatics
6 Party People - Nelly, Fergie
7 Self Esteem - Nelly, Chuck D.
8 Body On Me - Nelly, Ashanti, Akon
9 Stepped On My J'z - Nelly, Ciara, Jermaine Dupri
10 Let It Go Lil Momma - Nelly, Pharrell
11 One & Only - Nelly
12 Chill - Nelly, St. Lunatics
13 Who F*cks Wit Me - Nelly, Avery Storm
14 UCUD GEDIT - Nelly, Gucci Mane, R. Kelly
15 Bay - Nelly