Nelly, “M.O.” (Republic Records)
Nelly’s seventh studio album isn’t a total waste of time if you have the patience to get through the first half.
“M.O.” starts with the most boring, ear-numbing collaborations, including the first two singles — the somewhat catchy “Hey Porsche” and the smooth, yet derivative “Get Like Me,” Pharrell’s only puzzling contribution. The better tracks flourish when Nelly doesn’t require serious vocal backup from other artists such as Trey Songz, 2 Chainz, Nelly Furtado and Nicki Minaj.
“IDGAF,” featuring T.I. and Pharrell, takes off to the dance floor perfectly and the seemingly self-effacing “Rick James” is an ebullient hymn to the party life in bass steps. “Shake Whatever” is a time-bending track blending arcade game sounds with tribal drums, while “Mo’s Focused” grinds slowly and smolders the airwaves. “Maryland, Massachusetts” is the one track that echoes Nelly’s earlier work and showcases his distinctive vocals — otherwise he sadly tends to hide behind his guests’ voices and styles.
Nelly, who had a massive hit this year with “Cruise” alongside Florida Georgia Line, collaborates with the country duo again on “Walk Away.” It bounces and rounds off the genre mix of the album with an upbeat country hook.
“M.O.” is not a Sunday float parade to leave the house for, but it does keep you leaning down your window from time to time.
Follow Cristina Jaleru on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cristinelle7