Album Reviews: Sweat by NellyLeave it to St. Louis' finest, Cornell Haynes, to trump the double albums of OutKast and R. Kelly and release two separate full-lengths simultaneously. The idea is that Sweat is Nelly's party album, while Suit showcases more sophisticated numbers to spin late at night when the guests have all gone home. The division makes sense, up to a point. But the truth is that while both Sweat and Suit are decent albums, they would've been a lot better trimmed down to one.
Sweat is the less consistent and less soulful of the two sets, though it does offer one killer dance-pop track (and, it must be said, more than its fair share of duds, including the surprisingly limp, Neptunes-produced "Flap Your Wings"). That killer track, "Tilt Ya Head Back," sounds like another "Hot in Herre" in the making, although its lusty allure owes less to Nelly than it does to Christina Aguilera's full-throttle guest vocals and a sample of Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly." Elsewhere on Sweat, the supposed star of this show also tends to take too much of a back seat, often getting overshadowed by The St. Lunatics and big-name guests like Mobb Deep, Lil' Flip, and Terror Squad's Fat Joe. He even enlists Bob Marley's son Stephen to upstage him on the reggae-tinged "River Don't Runnn."
So where on Sweat does Nelly get his chance to shine? Well, "Another One" flashes a slow electro-funk groove perfect for his trademark half-singing, half-rapping style, and "Spida Man" is an interesting, menacing change-up. And I'm sure hoops fans throughout the land will eat up "Heart of a Champion," which samples "Roundball," a John Tesh (yes, that John Tesh) tune best-known as the theme jingle for the NBA on NBC. Other than that, if you choose to skip this disc and proceed straight to its companion, Suit... well, don't sweat it. - Andy Hermann
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