A Night of Symphonic Hip Hop fearturing Nelly Tennessean Article
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Nelly talks Nashville classical concert, going country?
Dave Paulson , firstname.lastname@example.org Published 11:04 a.m. CT Feb. 3, 2017 | Updated 11:51 a.m. CT Feb. 3, 2017
Nelly performs onstage at Bridgestone Arena on May 27, 2015, in Nashville.(Photo: File / The Tennessean)Buy Photo
This Saturday at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nelly — the rap star who brought us "Country Grammar," "Hot in Herre," "Ride Wit Me" and more — is teaming up with a Nashville orchestra for "A Night of Symphonic Hip-Hop."
He knows how strange that sounds.
"I'm not gonna front. It was kind of sketchy at first when the idea was brought to me," Nelly tells The Tennessean. "I was wondering, 'How do we do this? How do we mesh it? I don't want to disrespect the classical side of music.' "
But after talking it over with some folks from the symphonic world, Nelly decided to give it a shot — and weirdly enough, it worked. Since emerging from the St. Louis scene in 2000, he's been one of the most melodic lyricists in rap, and his slickly produced pop hits find surprising depth with strings and brass.
He played his first symphonic show with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra last year, and soon followed it up with spots around the country, including a sold-out gig in his hometown with the St. Louis Symphony.
"It's just been a dope scenario," Nelly says. "So now we're trying to expand it and see if we can move across this country, turning people on to a new situation."
While "Symphonic Hip-Hop" is a new venture for him, Nelly has been crossing over into other genres for as long as he's been a star — especially when it comes to country music.
His 2004 collaboration with Tim McGraw, "Over and Over," was a top 10 pop and country hit. A decade later, he and Florida Georgia Line jelled for another big hit: a remix of "Cruise." And at his latest concerts, he's been covering "one of my favorite songs," Thomas Rhett's recent chart-topper, "Die a Happy Man."
Considering how well it's worked out when he's dipped his toes in country, would he ever take the plunge?
"I'm a fan of country music, obviously. ... (But) you know, me doing a country album? I don't see it. Me doing an album featuring country artists, and it's my salute? Possibly. I don't know how I would (respond to) a country artist doing an album and calling it a hip-hop album. Because as a hip-hop artist, I know what goes into putting hip-hop out, the vibe, and engulfing yourself (in it). It's the same way with country."
For now, Nashville can see the symphonic side of Nelly on Saturday. He performs with the Nashville Recording Orchestra at TPAC's Jackson Hall. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $40 to $75 at www.tpac.org
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