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[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-heartland-album

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.

Nelly-new-album-heartland

5 Things to Expect from Nelly’s Country-Inspired Upcoming Album

Superstar Nelly is going country! His country-inspired album, Heartland is due out this Friday, August 27th. It features collaborations with country artists like Blanco Brown, Florida Georgia Line, Darius Rucker, Chris Bandi, and more. After chatting with the megastar, we are giving you the inside scoop about what to expect from the brand new project.

Nelly - Heartland

Nelly’s country-inspired project ‘Heartland’ is due out this Friday, August 27th

  1. Nelly may not have listened to country music growing up, but he was still a country music fan.

“The way that I kinda got turned on to country music,” he shares, “my uncle was the one that turned me on to music, but what he made sure to do was he taught me to appreciate all music. All music is good.”

 

  1. His hit record Country Grammar inadvertently inspired his connection to country music and country music fans.

“I was getting so much love from the country music community ever since Country Grammar came out, they had been rocking with me. I didn’t know it would lead me to this moment, but I definitely knew that it was something special.”

 

  1. Heartland came to fruition due to the time Nelly got to create during the pandemic.

“What really allowed me to do this project was the pandemic. It allowed me time to sit down and think about how I was going to take these blessings from this whole different genre of music and salute them for showing me the love.” He declared later, “This album is my salute to the whole country world for showing Nelly so much love.”

 

  1. The new record is country-inspired because Nelly will never quite identify himself as a country artist.

 “I’m just trying to tell my story and rock out, but the thing is my story connected with so many people that it allowed me to do this project today.”

 

5. The incredible collaborations were done intentionally!

“There’s no doubt about it that the majority of my features are these young African Americans [Breland, Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen] in this business of country music. That is definitely on purpose.”

 

Check back here on Friday, August 27th for our exclusive interview and full album review of Nelly’s Heartland.

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

* Interview Conducted by: Stephanie Wagner // Written by: Erica Zisman for Country Swag

Nelly-new-album-heartland

Nelly Collaborates with Blanco Brown and Breland on “High Horse”

Superstar Nelly collaborates with Blanco Brown and Breland on their new song “High Horse,” out now.  Take a look below as we dig into the song.

Multi-platinum-selling superstar Nelly has dipped his toes into the country world a few times over the years. Now, the rapper is solidifying his staying power in the genre officially releasing a country-inspired album Heartland, due out on August 27th. Last week, Nelly released the second song off the project, “High Horse,” featuring Blanco Brown and Breland.

Full of country twang and vocals, “High Horse” is another funky collaboration. Similar to Nelly’s collab with Florida Georgia Line, “Lil Bit.” The three artists are proving that genre lines do not need to be so solid. Brown, Breland, and Nelly combine all their unique talents and voices in a song that is truly a genre of its own.

“Get up off that high horse // Get up off of this train // Get up off of that high horse // And drop that thing on me // Get up off of that high horse // Get up off of this train // Get up off of that high horse // And drop that thing on me”

Nelly has had crossover success in the country genre since 2004 with Tim McGraw on “Over and Over” He is in a league of his own. It is encouraging to see him take other promising artists under his wing. Blanco Brown and Breland are both rising stars in their own right!

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.

“High Horse” 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.

Florida Georgia Line and Nelly Reunite for New Song “Lil Bit”

Florida Georgia Line and Nelly teamed up for a brand new song, “Lil Bit” available now, October 23rd, on all streaming platforms. Take a look below as we dig a little deeper into the track.

“Cruise” was arguably the song that defined the “bro-country” era in the 2010s. When rapper and singer-songwriter Nelly joined Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley on the remix, it gained popularity and helped skyrocket the song to the top of the charts, holding the number one spot for 24 straight weeks. Now in 2020, Nelly reunites with the CMA-nominated Duo of the Year on the brand new track, “Lil Bit”.

Unlike “Cruise,” this song leans more heavily into rap than country. Nelly raps the verses and pre-chorus and Hubbard and Kelley come in for the chorus. A banjo joins the hip-hop beat to give it a country element and create an interesting and unique sound. Hubbard and Nelly wrote this track with Jordan Schmidt and Blake Redferrin.

Florida Georgia Line and Nelly Reunite for a Brand New Song, "Lil Bit", available now.

Florida Georgia Line and Nelly Reunite for a Brand New Song, “Lil Bit”, available now.

Take me to the country , show me where your from / I said Shawty you gon’ love me and we gon’ have some fun / I’ll break out my big wheel and you can climb on up / Girl, I think you a big deal, now show your boy some love / Huh, just a lil’ bit

It is unlikely this will get a lot of country radio airtime, but it could be a fun song for Florida Georgia Line to mix into their live sets when concerts finally do return. For Nelly, “Lil Bit” is his third country feature of 2020, along with “Good Times Roll” with Jimmie Allen and “Cool Again” with Kane Brown. He has also collaborated with Tim McGraw in the past and recorded his own version of Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man.”

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

To keep up with Florida Georgia Line, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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

 

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SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. Specially selected foundations that support our heroes will receive donations from each purchase. Honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice is what we are dedicated to.

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Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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Jimmie Allen Releases Noteworthy Collaboration Project ‘Bettie James’

Jimmie Allen, Bettie James

With the exception of a few remixes and covers, fans of Jimmie Allen have not been given new music since his 2018 debut album Mercury Lane. Still, the “Best Shot” singer has maintained his spot in country music and has developed a devoted community through social media. With his growing fanbase, Bettie James is here to reintroduce Allen in a way that could not have been more anticipated, in the very best way: with a collaborative project.

With six, out of seven, unreleased tracks with entertainers such as Nelly, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, and more, Bettie James works as a mesh of creatively diverse tracks. There are feel-good, powerhouse songs, estranged love ballads, inspirational messages laid over music, and reflective lyrics that contemplate tragedy and, in another production, potential growth.

Bettie James was undoubtedly worth the wait, not only for Allen’s listeners but for country music as a whole. It showcases a grown, matured, and versatile artist who is capable of honesty and vulnerability as well as performing those country music classics that get people moving and grooving. Not only does it provide Allen with a chance to redefine himself in a multifaceted, cross-genre way, but the well-known contributors are able to play with their preferred style of music, too. For instance, “Made for These” practically demands Tim McGraw’s involvement since it walks the same line as McGraw’s 2004 hit, “Live Like You Were Dying”. Additionally, “Freedom Was A Highway” aligns with Brad Paisley’s high-esteemed inclinations to incorporate a dense, electric riff.

Further exploring a mix of genre-bending music from top to bottom, the album kicks off with the infectious and fan-favorite “Good Times Roll” featuring Nelly and ends with the final and seventh track, “This Is Us” featuring Noah Cyrus. Fans got a bit of an early taste for each of these two tracks. While the latter was released on its own in February, Allen also began including a sneak peek of “Good Times Roll” in his live show as early as December 2019. Check out the video below for a clip of the live performance.

Although, Bettie James in its entirety is a true gift, there are two notable pieces, and it would be a great disservice if “Drunk & I Miss You” and “Why Things Happen” were not specifically given the words, and the space, to officially discuss and acclaim. The former is with Mickey Guyton and the melody practically sends the listener into a dizzying mental state, as if a camera is rotating 360° around an object to cause chaos and confusion. It only adds to the anguish and desperation of the song, though the mixed feelings of honesty battled with alcohol-induced longing creates a conflicted, muddled mental state that allows the track to be what it is. And, it’s great.

“Why Things Happen”, with Charley Pride and Darius Rucker, takes on a more serious route with the lyrics searching for answers as to, well, why things happen as they do. It’s political, without having to get political. And, it’s an emotional, thought-provoking production that tugs at the heart-strings. With Rucker’s natural tremble in his voice and Pride’s established, rough yet muted tone intertwining with each other and echoing Allen, a full-blast exploratory creation is born that leaves us wanting more.

Bettie James is an epiphanic, significant and well-built project from Allen that takes you on a whirlwind of emotions in seven tracks, leaving you dazed and confused, in the very best way.

To keep up with Jimmie Allen, follow him on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

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

 

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SHOP THE HERO COLLECTION

The Hero Collection by NYCountry Swag is inspired by the men and women of the Fire, Police and Military Departments across the country. A portion of sales from each purchase is donated to different foundations that support our heroes. We are dedicated to honoring their service and remembering their sacrifice.

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Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC & Beyond!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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NYCS Swag Spotlight Featuring Renee Blair

Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Renee Blair wasn’t always a country fan, she tells New York Country Swag in our most recent interview. Yes, the Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, and Tanya Tucker, of course, played a big part in her childhood, but ultimately The Spice Girls and even the rise of Nelly really cultivated her love for performing.  After taking voice lessons and dance classes her entire childhood, Blair knew that there was no plan B for her career, she was going to be an artist. “I had to be perfecting my voice and my performance and I was really addicted to music. I’ve never even thought about the fact that my life was meant to do something else. As much as I loved the popstars and that music, I definitely think I picked the right genre, the way that country music tells stories, I think I finally have a story to tell,” she explains.

Her story includes moving to Nashville when she was right out of high school, two tragic accidents within the same year, and a regrowth period that now involves mega producer and songwriter Shane McAnally.  After moving to town, she, like so many people, thought that with her abilities, she would have an overnight success story, but looking back now realizes that her trials and tribulations with life and pursuing the career doesn’t always go as planned.  A car accident and then a boating accident which left her arm paralyzed for 6 months, changed her perspective and left her wondering where her place was in the music industry. “I kind of went through a few years of questioning life and myself and my purpose, moving to Nashville for this dream and now I was just known as the accident girl and music was what really kept me going and as corny as it sounds, it made me want to wake up in the morning and try to get better,” she tells us.

The little girl from St. Louis who rocked a piece of tape on her cheek in homage to Nelly while in Catholic school laughs as she explains how Nelly’s rise to stardom influences her music today. “I think it is a huge testament to where music is right now, it’s becoming very cross-genre. I think it’s awesome,” she says of his recent collaboration with Florida Georgia Line.  “The fans are the best judgment, they just like good music and they don’t care what you call it and I think it is a great way to just bring everyone together.”

Her debut single, released earlier this year, “Gotta Quit Drinkin'”  is as real life as it gets and definitely has that R&B vibe while telling a story.  Blair explains that mistakes she has made over the past couple of years with ex-boyfriends only happen after she’s had that second or third drink. “All day long I never text this dude, but as soon as I have my second drink my thumbs go wild and I’m all ‘Where are you’ and ‘I miss you’,” she laughs. After it became a running joke with her friends, she took the experience that is completely relatable into the writing room one day and “Gotta Quit Drinkin” was written.  “We definitely told the truth and in songwriting it is all you can ask for, every word of that I did and I lived it, there are other songs that I’ve written that might have better radio success but this is a great representation of where I’ve been at, its authentic to my story,” Blair says.

Blair is working on her debut EP which is being produced by Shane McAnally and released by SMACK Songs. McAnally who has worked closely with country megastars such as Sam Hunt, Old Dominion, Kacey Musgraves and has written hits for tons of other artists is helping to shape the music Blair is releasing. One interesting anecdote that she explains is how he caters his talents to each artist individually, helping to keep each sound unique.  “He helps to bring a light to the artist and pull out the best parts of them, he has really helped me tap into myself and asked me questions that I haven’t even thought about,” she says of her working relationship with the producer.  “He is a great person, with all of the success that someone has had, he is still kind to people and works really hard, he is so kind and I think the world of him.”

She already has an album’s worth of songs that she has written and is working to record new music and hopefully release a few tracks later this fall.  She is opening for Billy Currington in October on three of his Texas dates.  “I am so excited to do those dates, I’ve been in the writing mode for 2-3 years so I am so excited to get the music out to the fans and start playing it all,” Blair says of finally getting on the road.

Follow her journey on her social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

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Thank You for supporting Country Music in NYC!

Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
for ticket giveaways, meet & greet contests, upcoming events,
and all things country music in the New York metro area and beyond!

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