Album: Nelly

Da Derrty Versions ­ The reinventions, MCA
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Continuing his campaign to promote poor spelling, Nelly brings us Da Derrty Versions, a remix album which for once is actually worth hearing. It very nearly lives up to its grandiose subtitle, with several tracks altered almost beyond recognition - particularly the sneakers anthem "Air Force Ones", which gets a complete rock makeover involving a heavy fuzz-guitar riff. Going in the opposite direction, "Ride Wit Me" has been accorded a lighter, more countrified flavour, while "Pimp Juice" acquires an extra dollop of lubriciousness courtesy of a sensual sax sample and Ron Isley's vocal caresses. The hit singles are the most obviously affected: the more abrupt, jerkier beats to "Hot In Herre" render Nelly's vocal demanding rather than cajoling, and the groove to "Country Grammar" has been deconstructed to a framework of a few keyboard notes, handclaps and skeletal beats, making it more reliant than before on Nelly's voice, which seems to bloom with the extra attention. But neither of the two versions of "E. I." really improves on the original: one is opened up and spaced out on a new bouncing beat; the second appears to be little more than an attempt to introduce the term "tipdrill", whatever that is, into hip-hop vocabulary. Then again, I never found out what "E. I." stood for, let alone the significance of its "underlay" refrain.