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|Studio album by Nelly|
|Released||June 27, 2000|
|Singles from Country Grammar|
|Studio album by Nelly|
|Released||June 27, 2000|
|Singles from Country Grammar|
Country Grammar is the debut studio album by American rapper Nelly. It was released on June 27, 2000 through Universal Records, who released the album after listening to demos by Nelly and signing a record deal with the rapper in 1999. The majority of the album's production was done so by Jason "Jay E" Epperson, with additional production by C-Love, Kevin Law, City Spud, Steve "Blast" Wills and Basement Beats. Nelly contributed to all lyrics on the album, with Epperson and City Spud also contributing. The album is predominantly Southern hip hop based, and introduces Nelly's vocal style of pop-rap singalongs and Midwestern, Missouri twang.
The album produced four successful singles: "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)", "E.I.", "Ride wit Me" and "Batter Up". Its lead single, "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)", peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. "E.I." charted at number sixteen, twelve and eleven on the Hot 100, UK Singles Chart and ARIA Singles Chart, respectively. "Ride wit Me" peaked within the top five on the Hot 100, ARIA Singles Chart, Irish Singles Chart and UK Singles Chart. The album's final single, "Batter Up" featuring Murphy Lee and Ali, achieved moderate chart success.
Country Grammar received positive reviews, with critics praising Nelly's vocal style and the album's production. It topped the US Billboard 200 chart for five consecutive weeks, and the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for six consecutive weeks. It peaked in the top five on the New Zealand Albums Chart and Australian Albums Chart, as well as the top ten on the Canadian Albums Chart and Dutch Albums Chart. The album was certified three times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) and Music Canada (MC), denoting shipments of 45,000 and 300,000 copies, respectively.
By May 18, 2013, Country Grammar had sold 8.5 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, ranking it as the ninth best selling rap album of all time in the US. It was certified nine times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), making it one of the highest certified albums in the US history. Its commercial success secured Nelly's status as one of the most successful hip hop acts of the 2000s decade. On Billboard's decade-end chart, Nelly ranked as the third most successful act of the 2000–2009 decade, largely in part to the success of Country Grammar and his follow-up album Nellyville (2002).
In his early years, Nelly frequently moved locations within the US, before residing in the city of St. Louis. It was there where he discovered rap artists synonymous within the city; in his teenage years, Nelly was moved to a University City, where he shifted his aspirations of becoming a Baseball player, to producing stories and rhymes. Along with some high school friends—Ali Jones, Torhi Harper, Kyjuan and Lavell Webb—Nelly formed the group St. Lunatics in 1993. Frustrated by the lack of attention from record companies, the group formed the consensus to allow Nelly to pursue a solo career, with the rest possibly releasing their own solo albums. Nelly produced demos, which were sent to national labels, eventually gaining attention from Universal Records who signed a record deal with Nelly and the St. Lunatics in 1999, with Universal releasing the former's debut album, Country Grammar, in 2000. All songs on Country Grammar were recorded by Steve Eigner, and mixed by Rich Travali. Kenny Dystra provided recording assistance and Jason Standard assisted in mixing. Mastering was performed by Herb Powers, with A&R directed by Kevin Law and Coordinated by Craig Yoskowitz. Management was provided by Tony Davis and Courtney Benson, with legality handled by Todd Rubenstein. Creative direction was handled by Sandra Brummels, with design and photography done so by BENTO Design and Jonathen Mannion, respectively.
Much of Nelly's rap style draws from his origins, as it contains Southern drawl with Midwestern, Missouri twang, that incorporates both country and urban styles. In conjunction, Nelly approaches a pop-rap singalong vocal style, which Allmusic's Jason Birchmeier notes present within Country Grammar's tracks including "Ride wit Me" and "E.I.". Peter Shapiro described Nelly's vocals as using "unforgettable hooks based on schoolyard songs, double-dutch chants, and nonsense rhymes". Much of Country Grammar's tracks are bass-heavy, that are primarily Southern hip-hop based and minimalistic. In the album's self-titled track, Nelly's vocals are slurred and slow, and are a "smooth, slippery-fast instrument" with "reggae inflections". Rolling Stone found the song's lyrics to depict Nelly "riding around town in an expensive SUV with an assault weapon". "Ride wit Me" is rap, pop crossover, that samples composition from DeBarge's 1982 "I Like It", and its lyrics feature Nelly introspecting. Rolling Stone found the chorus of "E.I." to contain the vocal style of rapper The Notorious B.I.G.. "Luven Me" samples "Don't Stop (Ever Loving Me)" and "Whatever You Want" from bands One Way and Tony! Toni! Toné!, respectively. NME interpreted "Luven Me" as a "virtual rewrite" of rapper Tupac Shakur's 1995 "Dear Mama".
"Country Grammar (Hot Shit)" was released as the album's first single on February 29, 2000 in the US. The song was written by Nelly and Jason "Jay E" Epperson, and produced by the latter. Its lyrics are based off the children clapping game Down Down Baby. "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)" peaked at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. It also reached number ten and twenty on the Canadian Hot 100 and ARIA Singles Chart, respectively. The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). The second single, "E.I.", was written by Nelly and Epperson and produced by the latter. It reached number sixteen on the Hot 100, number eleven on the UK Singles Chart and number twelve on the ARIA Singles Chart. It was certified gold by the ARIA.
Written by Nelly and Epperson and produced by the latter, "Ride wit Me" was released as Country Grammar's third single. The track features City Spud, and reached number three on the Hot 100, the highest charting song from Country Grammar in the US. It also peaked at number three on the UK Singles chart, number four on the ARIA Singles Chart, Irish Singles Chart, number five on the Dutch Singles Chart and number seven on the Norwegian Singles Chart. It was certified gold by the RIAA and platinum by the ARIA. "Batter Up" was released as the fourth and final single from the album. It features Murphy Lee and Ali, and was written by Nelly, Epperson and Steve "Blast" Wills, while being produced by Wills. "Batter Up" peaked at number eight on the Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) and number nineteen on the ARIA Singles Chart.
Country Grammar was well received by music critics. NME lauded the album, praising Nelly's utilization of vocal characteristics from other rap artists, including Tupac Shakur and Cypress Hill. The magazine described the album as a "rarity", noting stand-out tracks such as the "seductive rap/pop crossover" "Ride wit Me", while likening "Batter Up" to "DMX with a humour infusion". NME closed their review declaring Country Grammar as "album of the year". Giving the album a B–, Entertainment Weekly's David Browne wrote the album demonstrates that "tiresome rap topics" are not restricted to "the coasts". Though what salvages the album is Nelly's "smooth, slippery-fast" voice, which contains "reggae inflections". Browne describes the album's content as minimalistic, with "introspective moments" such as "Ride wit Me".
In Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide review, he wrote that Nelly presents an "easy mix of N.O. Bounce, Cleveland thug harmony, and L.A. tweedle-twaddle", noting Nelly's heavy accent which makes his hedonism more accessible. People noted that Nelly implements his own "laid-back charm" to Country Grammar's southern hip hop. Despite Nelly showing "limited thematic vocabulary" he articulates escapism to compensate for this. Allmusic's Jason Birchmeier praised the album's "tongue-twisting" self-titled track as "infectious", noting other tracks to contain the same elements, including "Ride wit Me" and "E.I.". Birchmeier wrote that the album transcends regional styles such as southern hip hop to appeal to rap-pop audiences, while praising producer Jason "Jay E" Epperson's contribution to the album.
Rolling Stone explained that the album's "liquid bass bumps" interlopes well with Nelly's "wordplay-heavy sing-song rhyme-flow", while declaring Country Grammar to be the best thing to come out of St. Louis since comedian Redd Foxx. At the 2001 Soul Train Music Awards, Country Grammar earned Nelly the award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist. Nelly was nominated for four awards at the Online Hip-Hop Awards, for Favorite Music Video, Song of the Year (both for "E.I."), Album of the Year (for Country Grammar) and Outstanding Graphic Design for his official website. He won the awards for Song of the Year and Artist of the Year.
Country Grammar entered the Billboard 200 on the week of July 15, 2000, at number three, selling 235,000 copies. The album remained within the top ten for several weeks before topping it on the week of August 17, 2000, selling 235,000 copies and passing 1.5 million in sales that week. Entertainment Weekly put the album's sales down to its support by its lead single, "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)", as well as the lack of releases from other music artists during that period. The album sold 235,000 copies again the following week, continuing to stay atop the Billboard 200. Country Grammar topped US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for six consecutive weeks. By October 30, 2000, the album had sold three million copies, and was certified three-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of three million copies. By June 29, 2002, Country Grammar had sold 7.7 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album was certified nine-times platinum by the RIAA on April 27, 2004, denoting shipments of nine million copies. By May 18, 2013, Country Grammar had sold 8.5 million copies in the US.
Country Grammar entered the New Zealand Albums Chart on the week of September 24, 2000, at number five. It reached its peak at number three, twenty-eight weeks after its debut on the chart, where it remained there for two non-consecutive weeks. It stayed on the chart for forty-two weeks before dropping out. The album was certified three times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for shipments of 45,000 units. On the Australian Albums Chart, Country Grammar debuted at number forty-five. It re-entered the chart five times, and reached its peak at number four on the week of October 7, 2001. The album remained on the chart for thirty-three weeks, and was certified three times platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Country Grammar reached number seven on the Canadian Albums Chart, and stayed on the chart for twenty-five weeks before dropping out. It was certified three times platinum by Music Canada (MC), denoting shipments of 300,000 copies. On the Dutch Albums Chart, the album peaked at number eight.
On the UK Albums Chart, Country Grammar reached number fourteen, and stayed on it for thirty-one weeks. It was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), for shipments of 100,000 units. The album peaked within the top thirty on the Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders), Finnish Albums Chart and Danish Albums Chart. It reached number 45 on the German Albums Chart, remaining on it for forty-three weeks. It peaked on the Swiss Albums Chart and French Albums Chart at number ninety and 109, respectively. Country Grammar topped the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums year-end chart in 2000.
Country Grammer's success cemented Nelly's position as one of the most successful hip hop acts of the emerging decade. Vibe emphasized Nelly's expeditious fame, writing that the rapper debuted without the benefit of "guest spots or Pen and Pixel produced teasers on his CD cover". The magazine continued to note the rapper's absence of being associated with a notable group, "he just came out and sold two million records in less than a month". Nelly's success helped in making St. Louis more notable for emerging hip hop acts, increasing the city's general reputation. Country Grammar experienced commercial success, topping the US Billboard 200 chart for five weeks in 2000, eventually going on to sell 8.5 million copies in the US, making it the ninth best-selling rap album of all time in the country. It is one of the highest certified albums in the US history, being certified nine times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Nelly ranked third on the Billboard 2000–2009 decade-end chart, due to the success of Country Grammar as well as his follow-up album Nellyville (2002). The latter album went on to sell 6,488,000 copies in the US.
All songs were written by Nelly, additional writers listed below.
|1.||"Intro" (featuring Cedric the Entertainer)||1:21|
|3.||"Greed, Hate, Envy"||City Spud||4:15|
|4.||"Country Grammar (Hot Shit)"||Epperson||4:47|
|5.||"Steal the Show" (featuring St. Lunatics)||Epperson||5:27|
|6.||"Interlude" (featuring Cedric the Entertainer)||0:33|
|7.||"Ride wit Me" (featuring City Spud)||Epperson||4:51|
|9.||"Thicky Thick Girl" (featuring Murphy Lee & Ali)||City Spud||4:34|
|10.||"For My" (featuring Lil Wayne)||Epperson||4:08|
|12.||"Tho Dem Wrappas"||Epperson||4:09|
|13.||"Wrap Sumden" (featuring St. Lunatics)||Epperson||4:16|
|14.||"Batter Up" (featuring Murphy Lee & Ali)||Wills||5:27|
|15.||"Never Let 'Em C U Sweat" (featuring The Teamsters)||City Spud||4:14|
|16.||"Luven Me"||City Spud||4:07|
|17.||"Outro" (featuring Cedric the Entertainer)||0:44|
Credits adapted from liner notes.
|Canada (Music Canada)||3× Platinum||300,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||3× Platinum||45,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||9× Platinum||8,500,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Canada||June 27, 2000||CD, digital download||Universal Records||Standard|
|United Kingdom||September 4, 2000|
|Germany||September 25, 2000|