Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Nelly fitting in with changing tastes

Hip-hop/country artist performing at Headwaters


Joshua Schipper

Whatzup Features Writer

Published May 3, 2022

Nelly will join a cohort of other performers when he takes the stage at Headwaters Park on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m.

Fresh off the summer release of the country-rap album Heartland, which peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s country chart, Nelly continues to bring his genre-bending talent to stages across the country.

A review of Heartland by The Nash News in Nashville, Tennessee, praises Nelly for his ability to blend genres, which he’s been known to do. 

The publication noted Nelly is “taking a more creative leap with this latest effort. He revolutionized genre-bending when he first collaborated with Tim McGraw back in 2004 on ‘Over and Over,’ and then brought  Florida Georgia Line’s smash hit ‘Cruise’ to the next level back in 2013.”

Louis Pavlakos, reviewing the album for Exclaim, said that through the nine tracks of Heartland, Nelly “rarely ever sings with a signature country twang. He raps as normally as he would, it’s just the instrumentation that leans more into the conventions of modern country music.”

Heartland probably won’t make a mark outside of major cities in the U.S.,” Pavlakos added, “but it’s still Nelly’s best album in over a decade, mainly because it takes risks he hadn’t taken since his Country Grammar era (in 2000).”

Remaining relevant

In an interview with Country Swag, Nelly said he changed his sound to fit in with changing tastes. 

“Evolution is inevitable, so people have to get with it or, and I hate to say it, their time is ticking as far as them being remembered,” he said. “Because if you don’t embrace the change in some way, shape, or form, then eventually when the era of people who supported you are gone, you get left behind as well.”

Audiences can likely expect to hear Nelly’s cunning ability to meld genres at the upcoming downtown Fort Wayne concert, and will get the chance to hear from three other acts: Twista, Lil’ Flip, and Do or Die.

Supporting acts

Twista once held the world record as the fastest English-speaking rapper in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. 

Twista achieved widespread acclaim for his 2003 single “Slow Jamz,” which reached No. 1, and for his chart-topping 2004 album Kamikaze. Recent years have seen Twista appear as a judge on the rap competition show Rhythm and Flow.

Lil’ Flip has been busy recently, releasing La Clover Nostra II: The Mob Lives On in March, then Made in Texas 2 with Tum Tum in April. Lil’ Flip’s talents do not stop with his career in music, as he also published a book, “Don’t Let the Music Industry Fool You!,” which was released with a soundtrack album. 

The Chicago rap trio Do or Die will perform as well.

Keeping busy

In addition to his latest country-rap ventures, Nelly has produced a number of hits that casual fans may recognize, including “Just a Dream,” “Ride Wit Me,” and “Dilemma,” the latter of which has amassed over 567 million streams on Spotify. “Just a Dream” was certified triple-platinum by the RIAA.

Other accolades for Nelly include three Grammy Awards and nine Billboard Music Awards. He even starred alongside Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard.

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