Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Hot shit! Nelly’s debut album, Country Grammar, turned twenty at the end of June. The album brought Nelly into the spotlight and made the public aware of the hip-hop scene in St. Louis (check out that famous arch on the album cover). Other St. Louis rappers followed, such as Akon (“Smack That”), Chingy (“Right Thurr”), Huey (“Pop, Lock & Drop It” ), and J-Kwon (“Tipsy”).
The album’s third single, “Ride Wit Me,” had the highest US charting of all the songs on the album, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The song features Nelly’s friend, City Spud, who also produced four songs on the album. City Spud ended up going to jail thanks to an unfortunate choice of person to ride with. Under the circumstances (and mandatory minimum sentencing laws), City Spud was in jail during the ascent of “Ride Wit Me.”
Although we probably won’t be riding with anyone outside our immediate household any time soon, we can dream while listening to these new spins on a 2000 classic (although, sadly, City Spud’s verse is missing from them all). Go ahead and scream “MUST BE THE MONEY” into the void. And for all of you wanting to celebrate another one of Nelly’s masterpieces, “Hot in Herre,” you’ll have to wait two more years for Nellyville to turn twenty. (By the way, Nelly’s iconic bandage on the face on this album’s cover is a reference to his friend, City Spud.)
Yellow Blankets – Ride Wit Me (Nelly cover)
We’ll start with a somber cover to ease into the joy. Simple acoustic guitars, harmonies, and a steady beat characterize this cover. Everyone gets a turn to be the focus of the song as they pass around the rap verses. The guitarist on the left delivers an especially powerful message to all of the haters who “straight doubted the flow.” This version makes it easier to hear the pros and cons of fame described in the lyrics.
Cut Down Clay – Ride Wit Me (Nelly cover)
If you are more a headbanger than bopper, this cover is for you. This cover increases the tempo, and although it becomes a little hard to make out every word, the punk style certainly keeps the energy up. The ending electric guitar solo gives us a touch of originality beyond the usual hip-hop-goes-punk-style cover. Cut Down Clay must be big Nelly fans; they also cover “Hey Porsche” from Nelly’s latest album.
Steve Viola – Ride Wit Me (Nelly cover)
This cover takes earnest piano and guitar, adds a little Owl City-esque mood, and ends up with a cover that would fit right in to a prom scene in a movie. This romantic take on the song makes you almost forget it was originally a hip-hop song. It’s more “ride wit me” to the drive-in movie theater than to the club.
Demi Imeri – Ride Wit Me (Nelly cover)
By now you may have realized that “Ride Wit Me” is actually very versatile from mellow acoustic, to punk, to rom-com worthy styles. This cover checks off another musical genre and gives “Ride Wit Me” a little dream-pop flair. The lone unique guitar riff that follows Imeri’s light voice is a steady groove that contrasts the original percussion/guitar pairing.
KilCool – Ride Wit Me (Nelly cover)
Of all these covers, I think this one is the one most ready for a drop-top joy ride. It’s a summer jam that radiates the easy-going, free-spiritedness that I associate with non-pandemic times. It has an overall theme that I can only describe as bouncing; the beat just keeps boomeranging back. Although this cover’s focus is on the production, it weaves the iconic pieces of the original into something that is both nostalgic and fresh.