Nelly – “Hot in Herre”

Release: 4.16.02

Peak: #1

The first time I heard “Hot in Herre,” alone in my car, I laughed out loud twice. The deadpan response “I am getting so hot/ I wanna take my clothes off” stirred up my first giggles, and Nelly’s bedroom imitation of his seducee (“Girl I think my butt gettin’ big”) topped them off. Perhaps no R&B hit had skirted this near the parodic since you reminded R. Kelly of his car, and Kells was never as playful as Nells. Who else would think of a penthouse roof as a place to feed birds? And who knew this was the beginning of the end?

Well, the signs were all there. Nellyville was a mild downer after Country Grammar, with the great Jason Epperson largely relegated to album tracks. (Now that Nelly was a proven commodity, he couldn’t trust no-names with big singles.) Even “Hot in Herre” owes less to the Neptunes’ artful tweaks than to Chuck Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose” and, more importantly, to Nelly himself–subtract his leapfrog flow and the remaining funk is glibly pro. Where once his beats juiced his rhymes, now Nelly was the primary engine driving his tracks forward, and no MC can carry that kind of weight forever.

Like any entrepreneur weaned on a biz where growth was all, Nelly went on to diversify (acting, energy drink, clothing) and to engage in the rap’s most ostentatious form of conspicuous consumption: the accumulation of duet partners. First came successful yet lackluster pairings with not-Beyonce and that guy Taylor Swift sang about, each suggesting a range broader than he actually possessed. Then he floundered on the overbooked Brass Knuckles–collaborating with Fergie and Chuck D on the same disc is the kind of achievement Sugar Ray would have been proud of. (The Mariah and Bruce and Janet cameos Jermaine Dupri boasted about beforehand would not have helped matters.)  How sad to watch the onetime life of the party reduced to obsessing over his guest list.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: