Two summers ago Nelly came out of nowhere to become a mainstay on the Billboard charts with his 8X platinum debut album, "Country Grammar." Even if you didn't own the album you were definitely hearing the singles, either while scanning channels on the radio, or having cars pass by bumping the infectious "Ride Wit' Me." It seemed anywhere you went, Nelly was there.
Things haven't changed much on his sophomore release, "Nellyville." He is still mackin' in full stride, still down to party whenever, still showcasing the ice whenever possible. This being said, the heavy theme on living the good life eventually adds up to some good music overall.
The party gets started upon being introduced to "Nellyville," Nelly's fictional town where the ghetto is so nice it could hang with Hollywood, and he doesn't even get around to describe how dope the good parts are. The album begins to heat up with the Neptune produced "Hot in Herre," another in the line of new beats from the hit-making duo that don't all sound quite as similar anymore. The chorus gets a little repetitive after a while, but this song is sure to burn up the clubs for the rest of the summer.
"Nellyville" really starts to hit its stride after a slow start with "On the Grind," which features a great beat and tons of St. Louis twang. The clapping sound is similar to Eminem's "Till I Collapse," but toned down quite a bit. Another great track is "The Gank," keeping the party vibe in full gear.
Nelly does find time to slow things down and speak from the heart. "Dilemma," featuring Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child, is solid and currently getting some radio play, while "Say Now" all but removes Nelly from his imagination and has him spitting about the rough times in the ghetto.
Also included here is the "Roc the Mic" remix, where Nelly calls out a certain Blastmaster, and "#1," his hit single featured on the "Training Day" soundtrack. This isn't to say the album isn't without its filler. The tracks featuring the St. Lunatics crew are pretty flat, and the tracks where Nelly is singing more than rapping seem to falter as well.
Overall, this is a good follow-up album from Nelly. He might not have the best mic skills in the game, but if you are looking to spark the party, you don't need to look much further than the escapist zenith that is "Nellyville."