Nelly – Suit Review

With apologies to m’man, Tayo, Suit has been promoted as Nelly’s ode to the “grown and sexy”. Promising a more R&B-influenced tracklist, he’s hoping to capitalize on a passing music fad that’s already come and gone.

The whole “sensitive rapper” schtick is played out past the point of even mocking it, but Nelly gives it the old college try, anyway. My Place is the first single and features Jaheim Hoagland, who adds some credibility in spite of Nelly’s oversexed stylings:

I know you get excited/when I come around and bite it.

Ladies and gentlemen…the more mature Nelly. He sounds a lot like the immature version except with much of the energy siphoned out of each song.

Play It Off wastes the contributions of Pharrell on the boards, as Nelly shifts from full tilt to 33 1/3 RPMs. And if that reference ain’t old school enough for you, then Ron Isley should help get you into a throwback state of mind on She Don’t Know My Name.

Seriously, I could listen to this brutha read from the phone book. Unfortunately, it also features an uninspired cameo from Snoop Dogg, who’s sleepwalking through lines like:

…get you wet like a fountain…

Hey, did someone say “sleepwalk”? Well, you can’t spell somnambulant without Hip Hop’s Prodigal Son, Mase. In My Life sounds like an outtake from Mr. Betha’s recently released CD, with its candy-coated beat and overwrought reflective message.

With the subtlety of a sledgehammer, we segue to N Dey Say. Shamelessly exploiting a sample of a smash-hit pop single that you’ll instantly recognize, it’s one of those “keep on keepin’ on” cuts that every (cough) “real” rapper has to have on at least one of their albums. But, how many them can invent new words on the fly?

I hate to sound 2Pac-ish, but keep ya head up…

The name-dropping continues on Over & Over which allegedly features Country music sensation Tim McGraw. If his guitar work is anywhere on here, it’s buried under the meandering beat. McGraw does have a clip of vocals on the hook, but it sounds like he’s singing in a wind tunnel. Fortunately, more familiar ground is found on Nobody Knows, which features Anthony Hamilton. The Jermaine Dupri beat is surprisingly lethargic, but Hamilton and Nelly have good chemistry.

Suit ends with Die for You. This one’s a dedication to his 10-year-old child and I’ll be damned if it didn’t hit close to home with me.

Nelly recounts the story of the February 1994 birth of his kid, who was two-months premature and barely over three pounds at birth. The imagery of incubators, ventilators and holding his little one in the palm of his hand is about as decent and vulnerable as you’ll ever see in much of today’s rap game.

On this cut, alone, I want to forget that he’s got tracks on here called Pretty Toes and Wood Grain & Leather with a Hole.

Oh, how I want to forget.

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