By the time of Country Grammar's release in summer 2000, the album's title track had become a major hit single for the previously unknown St. Louis rapper Nelly, who was making his national debut. In particular, the song's tongue-twisting chorus is downright infectious: "I'm goin down down baby, yo' street in a Range Rover/Street sweeper, baby, cocked ready to let it go/Shimmy shimmy cocoa what? Listen to it pound/Light it up and take a puff, pass it to me now" -- or something like that. There are many more tongue-twisting singalong moments like this on Country Grammar, such as "Ride wit Me" and "E.I.," enough to make the album an engaging overall listen, despite some pedestrian rapping at times. More than anything, Nelly's knack for writing -- and singing -- such infectious hooks makes Country Grammar an exceptional album for its time, one that transcends regional styles like Dirty South and is universal in its (Midwestern?) pop-rap appeal. Some of the credit should go to producer Jason "Jay E" Epperson, who showcases a lot of talent over the course of Country Grammar.
Jason Birchmeier, Rovi