Album Review: Nelly - 'Brass Knuckles' - Celebrity Bug


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Album Review: Nelly - 'Brass Knuckles'

With the assistance of sixteen different guests, Nelly offers his fifth installation on 'Brass Knuckles', sticking to the traditional Nelly formula and fare of friendly pop ('Party People'), tributes to shoes ('Stepped on My J'z'), singer lead choruses ('Long Night' with Usher), and his sing-song delivery that very few rappers do as well ('One and Only'). Emerging after a four year absence with a new muscular and chiseled body, the only question is does the traditional Nelly formula still work?

Maybe, because while sometimes he manages to offer up one of his signature radio hits, others times it's just so ridiculously stupid that you can't bear to listen to it.

The lead single, 'Party People', assisted by Black Eye Peas front woman Fergie, shows the two competing in a back and forth battle over the energetic Polow beat, where Fergie surprisingly holds her own against the main man. 'Long Night', featuring R&B superstar Usher and produced by Usher's younger brother J. Lack, is a grower that may initially leave you feeling a little shortchanged especially considering the two names sound like collaboration heaven, but once you hear the jam more than once it quickly becomes one that you will be spinning again and again. The Polow Da Don produced 'Lie', is a stupidly catchy and infectious number, where you know the lyrics are on the walls of horrendous, but so catchy that you really can't help singing along. The track also sees Nelly garnishing the help of his label mates and group members the St. Lunatics and a unnamed female artist, who is said to be Keri Hilson, but sounds nothing like the Timbaland protege. 'Self-Esteem', featuring the legendary Chuck D. and also Nelly's favorite track on the album, is a inspiring almost retro seventies jam as he boast about overcoming obstacles and setting examples for the younger generations. Nelly also takes on Uncle Sam and the Iraq struggle so fearlessly that you can't help but admire him, as does Chuck D. 'Body on Me', featuring Akon and girlfriend Ashanti, is another radio friendly record and while the track is pretty good, the other version mainly featuring Ashanti is a little more impressive, as the latter part of the track feels a little dry without any ab libs on her part. The Pharrell produced and assisted, 'Let It Go', is a ear enthralling catchy tune, that makes you realize that maybe people do underestimate the lyrical stylings of St. Louis' finest too much, as he raps:

"I'm the most underrated,
under appreciated, most sold to dated,
f*cking rapper we got,
See I don't drop every year to give you n*ggas a shot,
now I might not get five mics or a XXL (never),
but f*ck it you keep it, I'm a take the 100 mill"

The melodic, 'One and Only' previously titled 'Piece of My Heart', shows Nelly doing his traditional singing/talking with a melody that was previously seen in hits 'Dilemma' and 'Over and Over', as he sheds his heart over love lost. Other standouts include the enthusiastic but underwhelming 'Hold Up' and 'U Ain't Him'.

The album's downfalls include the Jermaine produced 'Stepped on My J'z', which also features the hit maker and Ciara, and falls too closely to the ground he already cover on 'Air Force Ones', the Snoop Dogg assisted 'LA', as well as the in house assisted 'Chill'.

Overall, I was expecting the album to be much worse considering I thought a lot of the material that leaked was underwhelming, but it turned out to be a pretty good effort and while Nelly may never get the critical acclaimed that Jay-Z, Lil' Wayne, or Kanye receive, and he probably knows this, he has out sold all of those guys, so its safe to say he probably doesn't care.

3.5 out of 5

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