[Interview] Nelly Drops Country-Inspired Album – Full Review

Nelly’s brand new country-inspired album Heartland is officially available everywhere you listen to music today, August 27th. Featuring “Good Times Roll” with Jimmie Allen, the top 5 cross-genre hit “Lil Bit” with Florida Georgia Line, and seven other country-inspired tracks, check out our full review and interview below.

If you grew up in the early 2000s, you probably heard Nelly all over mainstream radio, known for hit songs such as “Just A Dream,” “Hot In Herre,” “Country Grammar,” and many others. Although hip-hop was his passion, being raised in St. Louis, Nelly was introduced to all types of music. Over the past year or so, Nelly has really been embracing his country roots.

He has previously collaborated with some of Nashville’s biggest stars such as Kane Brown, Florida Georgia Line, Brett Kissel, and Jimmie Allen. Even at the peak of Nelly’s career he was exploring the country genre, having Tim McGraw join him on his song, “Over and Over,” featuring on the remix of Florida Georgia Line’s 11x Platinum smash hit, “Cruise,” and even recording a cover of Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man.” Upon starting his music career, however, he never envisioned that he would be here, making a country-inspired album.

“When I did Country Grammar, what I noticed was that I was getting booked in front of different crowds,” he explained in an interview with Country Swag. “One minute I’m booked over here and DMX is headlining and then another minute I’m booked over here but Tim McGraw is headlining, but it’s the same album.” He continued: “I was getting so much love from the country community ever since Country Grammar came out…I didn’t know it would lead me to this moment but I knew it was something special.”

The album starts with the two previously released tracks, “Lil’ Bit” with Florida Georgia Line, and “High Horse” with Breland and Blanco Brown. The latter uses more R&B/funk sounds than country or hip-hop. Brown takes the chorus Nelly raps the verses, and Breland provides backing lyrics, showing off his talented vocals. The trio performed their new song on Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week. Watch below…

“Grits and Glamour” is another track that blends R&B into its sound. Nelly and Kane Brown sing about a woman who can pull off any style and look, from the rough country scene to a night out on the town. She has high standards though, so you might need a little bit of money to take her out.

“She’s grits and glamour from Alabama // She’s small-town chic and that’s all I need // Grits and glamour, she’s got standards // Her love ain’t cheap, so work all week”

City Spud, who featured on Nelly’s 2000 hit song, “Ride Wit Me” joins him and Darius Rucker on “Ms. Drive Me Crazy.” These lyrics portray a common scenario that occurred in many early-2010s country songs—the girl riding shotgun in the man’s Chevy is looking so fine, it makes it hard to focus on the road and steer. Rucker’s deep, southern voice fits very well on this track as he sings the chorus. Tyler Hubbard appears again on the record, providing vocals on “Country Boy Do,” a simple ode to the country boy lifestyle. Both Hubbard and Nelly rap their parts.

 “5 Drinks Ago” is the only song on the record that doesn’t have a feature. In this track, the singer is at a bar trying to have a good time and not think about his ex. Although his intentions were good at first, five drinks later he is back to obsessing about her.

“That was five drinks ago, five drinks ago // When you were just somebody that I used to know // When I was good and sober, we were good and over // said I wouldn’t think about you // but that was five drinks go”

“Follow Me” and “Someone Somewhere” are the most ‘country’ songs on the project, with moments of reflection and adventure and minimal elements of hip-hop. In the former, Nelly sings about slowing things down and taking time to enjoy the things and people in life you love. Country newcomer, Chris Bandi features on this track. The latter is about pouring one out for those who are struggling, going through hardships, or are no longer with us. Nelly and TikTok country star George Birge sing over a modest, acoustic melody. 

“Pour a little out for someone somewhere, try to find a little bit of light in the dark // Someone somewhere, trying to move on from a broken heart // Everyone gotta miss somebody, everybody’s gotta go through a little hell // for the ones that didn’t make it to the party”

“What really allowed me to get to do this project was the pandemic because it allowed to me time to sit down and think about how I was going to take these blessings I was getting from this whole different genre of music and salute them for showing me the love, and that’s basically what this album is: it’s my salute to the whole country world for showing Nelly so much love.”

This project has been a long time coming for Nelly, but to make a country/rap album work, you have to be very creative and willing to adapt. It’s hard to stay relevant in music for over twenty years, but he has been one of the most unique and innovative artists of our time. Whether it’s his first and last country-inspired project or the beginning of a new era, we are 100% on board with this version of the talented rapper.

 “Evolution is inevitable, so people have to get with it or—and I hate to say it—their time is ticking as far as them being remembered. Because if you don’t embrace the change in some way, shape, or form, then eventually when the era of people who supported you are gone, you get left behind as well,” he adds in our recent chat.

Heartland Tracklist

  1. Lil Bit ft. Florida Georgia Line
  2. High Horse ft. Breland and Blanco Brown
  3. Grits and Glamour ft. Kane Brown
  4. Ms. Drive Me Crazy ft. Darius Rucker and City Spud
  5. Country Boy Do ft. Tyler Hubbard
  6. Someone Somewhere ft. George Birge
  7. Five Drinks Ago
  8. Follow Me ft. Chris Bandi
  9. Good Times Roll (Jimmie Allen ft. Nelly)

Nelly’s country-inspired record ‘Heartland’ is out now

Nelly will be appearing on a new episode of CMT Crossroads alongside Florida Georgia Line, Kane Brown, Breland, and more, premiering September 1st. He also just announced new tour dates with supporting help from Blanco Brown and Harper Grace. For tickets, head to his website.

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news and announcements about future Nelly releases.

To keep up with Nelly, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heartland is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.