Nelly is back on the radar, and not just because ESPN launched a new promo during college football bowl coverage featuring his new song “The Champ.” Eager to recreate his music buzz, the St. Louis rapper dropped “Country Ass Nigga” with T.I., 2 Chainz and Dumma Boy in October, and followed up with a new mixtape titled O.E.MO (On Everything Mo) on Christmas Eve. O.E.MO serves as the veteran rapper’s first mixtape ever, including 16 tracks and features from fellow St. Lunatics, T.I., 2 Chainz, SAG Live, St. Louis and Trixie.
O.E.MO reminds of the Derrty Ent. rapper’s versatility, from rapping on hard-hitting records like “Country Ass Nigga” to his familiar, smoothed out style on sentimental R&B records. On “I Wish” with Bei Maejor, he raps, “When I think about the things we used to do/Wishing I could rearrange time and start new/Time to write a sequel, we need a part two/But you say in part one I didn’t play my part/True.”
Multiple tracks display a balance of sing-songy hooks and verses from the “Country Grammar” rapper. As always, the St. Lunatics general goes back to his Southern roots, especially on mellow “Pimp C.” Later, “You Gone Learn Today” serves as a standout, and even fuses Kevin Hart’s voice into the hook. Nevertheless, O.E.MO lags a bit at times. Nelly comes up short on “Drank” and “Motto Remix,” which seem like fillers instead of records that compliment the rest of the project.
Regardless, after more than a decade since he initially blew up, Nelly continues with his rap-sung style that first put him on. Time will tell if this is enough to get his upcoming album in stores. —Rachelle Jean-Louis