This Rapper is Past His Prime

Nelly
5.0
Universal Motown

Over the course of his surprisingly long career, Nelly has released some great songs: “Country Grammar,” “Ride Wit Me,” “Hot In Herre” and “Grillz,” to name a few. That’s a pretty successful track record, especially for someone as gleefully oblivious to artistic development as Nelly. However, the Nelly behind 5.0 is not the same Nelly that so charmingly invited us to take off all our clothes. This Nelly just makes really, really bad music.

No matter how intently you search, there is absolutely nothing on 5.0 worth listening to. The raps are uninspired (rhyming party and Bacardi ain’t new, buddy), the production is annoying (siren effects and horns galore!) and the numerous guest spots are either uniformly terrible (who let Diddy rap on this?) or wasted on songs that are just plain boring.

“Just A Dream,” the album’s first single, is built on the kind of cheesy, late-nineties radio rock guitar riff that Nelly might have been able to get away with a decade ago. “Move Your Body,” despite being produced by Bangladesh — the genius behind “What’s Your Fantasy,” “A Milli” and “Videophone” — is home to one of the most uninteresting vocal hooks T-Pain has ever sung.

Drowned in over-produced club beats (and those damn air horns again), even Keri Hilson, who by now is probably used to redeeming forgettable tracks, is unable to salvage “Liv Tonight” from Nelly’s “we be poppin’ bottles, makin’ noise” buffoonery.

Granted, “She’s So Fly” — the album’s best and only listenable track — is a moderately compelling mid-tempo jam with a decent T.I. verse and an interesting sub-bass drum breakdown.

But barring any unforeseen changes, the uninspired production of 5.0 stands as a solid confirmation that Nelly’s career is over. It especially pales in comparison to much of the hip-hop released lately. Do yourself a favor and listen to Kanye’s new album instead. Nelly should have done the same. (3/10)

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