"BOOM BOOM BOOM... HOT SHIT!" What does that mean?!
I spent the first 18 years in my life in St. Louis, Missouri. Well, Collinsville, Illinois, more specifically, which was only one East St. Louis away from the Mississippi River. That doesn't matter, though. You could have grown up anywhere between Joplin, MO and Springfield, IL to be swept up in the early 2000's mania that was Nelly and the St. Lunatics.
This is a town that gave us Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, and Maya Angelou but somehow it's Nelly that commands the ethos of St. Louis art and culture. Seriously, I bet when Chuck Berry died, some punk from St. Charles has the AUDACITY to compare his legacy to Nelly.
But I'm not trying to pretend that I was too good for Nellyville at its peak. A friend's dad worked for Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and scored us early admission to a Nelly concert when he performed there in 2001. That means we got to stand right up front, right against the gate where groupies usually get to stand.
Hey, if someone you know plans to wear an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt and cargo shorts to a hip hop concert, be sure to let them know that is a bad idea, BECAUSE NO ONE TOLD ME. Here I am—blond hair, blue eyes, A&F tee—trying to mouth along to every lyric without accidentally letting the n-word slip. What a sight I must have been to some of the people on stage, who definitely had easy time spotting me front and center in the crowd.
But, you know, Nelly is one of the few rappers to transcend race like that. Guys like him and Drake, like their music or not, have a way of just appealing to everyone in pop culture. So even though his fame has faded, you can still find him in St. Louie... rollin on dubs.