Rapper Nelly Pretty Much Just Schooled Mainstream Country in How to Approach Genre


I never had much respect for the rapper Nelly, but then again, I didn’t really know much about him beyond that horrific “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes” song that strives to make hookers out of the young, sweet, impressionable young ladies of our innocent nation . . . and his stupid remix of Florida Georgia Line’s mega hit “Cruise” that caused the song to become the longest-charting #1 single in country music history, forever staining the storied American institution.

I saw the other day that Taylor Swift was out there dressed in white and dancing in a subservient go-go line behind Nelly at one of her concerts, while Nelly sang his stupid “take off all your clothes” song. So much for Swift being America’s final female role model, but I digress.

In late April, it was announced that Nelly would be making a country EP, and the collective groans of the assembled masses of true country fans was audible throughout the fruited plain. But apparently that info, which came from some Nelly peon and not the rapper himself, was bunk. Or at least that’s what Nelly’s saying now in a recent round of interviews.

In as many days, Nelly has been asked about his potential country EP twice, and twice he has offered some statements that however inadvertent they might be, waylay this completely misguided and disastrous idea that country music artists should be out there making rap, EDM, or R&B albums instead of making music in their native genre.

When asked about his rumored country EP by Rolling Stone, Nelly said,

“I love country music. I respect country music so much that I would never think that I can sit down and just as easy do a country album. That’s not it. That’s just like some country artist saying, ‘Hell, I’m just gonna do a rap album.'”

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Thank God to the Lord Almighty, stand up out of my chair, give a one-man standing ovation, YES! YES! YES!

FINALLY someone gets why this notion that every entertainer should be able to make every type of music, and that this approach is somehow “creative” or “evolution” has just been smacked down by the most simple, and most obvious observation from a guy that otherwise is probably a music miscreant.

Country artists make shitty rappers, R&B guys, and EDM artists. It’s just not their thing. It’s not what they grew up doing. It’s not in their blood. And by attempting to interject themselves into these disciplines, it’s not only disrespectful to country music, it’s disrespectful to the others genres they’re attempting to infiltrate.

You don’t see mainstream rappers at the top of their game, or mainstream R&B guys or EDM guys saying, “Hmm, I think I’ll make a country record.” Maybe you see that when some hack musician’s career has gone south and they’re looking for support (ahem, Darius), but generally speaking, it’s only country’s top artists that covet other genres, and act oppressed if someone gazes a hairy eyeball at Jason Aldean for cutting a rap song, or Thomas Rhett releasing an R&B album under a country guise.

Nelly respects country music more than most mainstream country artists do. Let me repeat that: Nelly respects country music more than most mainstream country artists do.

Nelly also spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his prospects of doing a country EP, and said:

“We talked about doing an EP that went across all boundaries and being a different vibe. I love country music. I respect it to the utmost. But there’s nothing in the world that makes me think I can do a country album. That’s like Tim McGraw waking up like, ‘Yo, I’m gonna do a rap album.’ Like, ‘Tim, you’re taking the “Over and Over” thing a little too far.’ What I think I can do is do something in the vein that can go across and fulfill different formats of music, country being one of them. I may do an EP that features more than one country artist, so it may have a different vibe, but not a country album.”

“Truck Yeah” Nelly, you tell ’em!

Look, there’s nothing wrong with mixing genres or crossing borders in the collaborative process. The problem is when you erase the borders to the point where a genre can’t define itself, and simply becomes an amalgam of other influences, easily infected by outside trends like a sickly person with a poor immune system. Because eventually, the genre can die (see: rock).

So I say good on Nelly. If he wants to dabble in country influences, then I give him my Papal blessing (however meaningless and obscure it might be). Because he just proved what countless country stars have yet to prove to the very thing that has bestowed them untold fame and riches: respect.