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Album review: Nelly, "M.O."

October 01, 2013|By Ernest Wilkins, @ErnestWilkins | RedEye Sound Board

* 1/2 (out of 4 stars)

There are only two consistent things about Nelly’s career: He makes songs that will get stuck in your head and his albums are frustrating as hell to navigate. You’ll get a few thumpers, a few sappy songs, some sort of attempt to reach out to a non-rap demographic and a whole lot of uninteresting fluff tailor-made for the sound of a year ago. 

That trend doesn’t change on his seventh (!!!!) studio album, “M.O.” Considering Nelly’s history with baseball (he was a standout high school player and earned looks from Pittsburgh and St. Louis years ago), it’s fun to imagine him as a utility player. Need a pop-country song that’s completely harmless and ultimately forgettable? Nelly got it! (“Hey Porsche” “Walk away.”) Want some Grade-A [bleep]-talking over Pharrell Williams productions? Nelly got it! (“IDGAF” “Get Like Me.”) You can put him anywhere on the pop charts and he’ll be good for a .250 average. Not amazing, but you can expect one good play a season.

As far as this particular album, Nelly kept the circle tight when it came to outside features. T.I. and the aforementioned Pharrell partner up for two songs; Nicki Minaj, Yo Gotti and 2 Chainz stop by; and, for whatever reason, we finally get the Nelly/Nelly Furtado team-up everyone’s been hoping for since 2000 on “Headphones.” HOORAY! 

Other than a few bright spots (“Get Like Me” “100K” “IDGAF”,) you can skip the rest. Actually, you know what? Don’t miss the absurdity that is “Ciroc and Simply Lemonade,” the best advertisement for a brand disguised as a rap song since Petey Pablo shouted out Seagrams Gin in “Freek-A-Leek.” Otherwise, the rest of “M.O.” is one big whiff.

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