Following the lead set down by Guns & Roses, Bruce Springsteen et al*, in September 2004 US R&B star Nelly released two albums on the same day in an act designed to showcase both sides of his coinage. 'Suit' was a collection of slow groove ballads for late night loving while 'Sweat' was more hip hop/club/dance orientated. In a logical/cynical (take your pick) act of promotion, 'Flap Your Wings/My Place' is a double A side featuring a song from each set.
'My Place's (from 'Suit') loverman slowjam comes so sample heavy that the main theme motif (borrowed from Teddy Pendergrass' 'Come Go With Me') dominates to the exclusion of much else. Certainly over anything Nelly himself adds to the pot anyway and it serves to give 'My Place' the feel of a Duchamp 'readymade', a song straight off the genre peg with Nelly's "Ooh Ooh baby"s and 'together forever's only adding to the deja vu. And while 'My Place' is a smooth as a mug of thick Horlicks for a late night in with your lady of choice, it's unfortunately also just as sleep inducing. Which I'm guessing is not how Nelly would see his evening as unfolding. Not in the short term anyway - why would you want to put this on when you could have Marvin Gaye for god's sake?**
'Flap Your Wings' is the more interesting of the two and rides a sparse yet busy percussion driven rhythm that splashes with club Tropicana good times. Nelly still has the eye for "shorty"* but his seduction techniques this time ease up on the oil and boil down to a repeated "Drop down and get your eagle on", a phrase which, if I'm not mistaken, is a chart friendly way of saying 'get down and spread your legs' (the "Take your pants off, ma, you can leave your panties on, but first drop down and get your eagle on" suggests as much anyway). And while I'm in no way prudish, it does show a level of casual sexism that's rife in the genre and one which I'm uncomfortable with - to these ears, the line between Nelly barking out his 'sex instructor' orders and Sid James groping the arse of some dolly bird half his age is a fine one. Maybe I'm being unfair and maybe there's a whole genre/cultural aside that I'm missing that means genre fans will furrow their brows at my 'missing the point' comments the same way I furrow mine at those who (for example) take a metal track like 'Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter' as encouraging child abuse. Or maybe it's just that I've heard it all before......
* aka an act of hubris that didn't quite come off.
** Or, alternately, if you want to listen to Teddy Pendergrass then LISTEN to some Teddy Pendergrass.
*** I've heard this phrase in too many R&B songs over the past few months and, being alien to me, I looked up what it means. And I got this -
Also, shaw·ty [shaw-tee] Show IPA. Slang .
a. a girl or woman: "We watched the shorties on the dance floor, all
lookin' so fine".
b. a girlfriend or sweetheart: "Me and my shorty went to that new club
over on Ninth last night; what a scene!"
Well who'da thunk it?