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*** Nelly, “Country Grammar,” Universal.

Featuring the spare title track, a No. 1 rap single, this debut collection establishes the St. Louis artist as a force to be reckoned with. Like many other rappers, his distinctive slang is indigenous, and his street-centered tales are based on life in his city. But it’s the combination of his easygoing rapping and easily accessible production that pushes his album over the top.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.


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