Pretty Willie

Enter the Life of Suella

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The comparison is inevitable and no doubt intentional -- at least on the part of Universal Records, the major label responsible for Pretty Willie's debut album. Yes, if you haven't made the connection yourself already, Willie bears more than a passing resemblance to Nelly, the first St. Louis rapper to break into the mainstream. Like Nelly, Willie raps in a singsongy pop-rap style and also has cuddly cute looks as well, not to mention an arrogant persona. Moreover, Willie's first single, "Roll Wit Me," sounds awfully similar to Nelly's radio-aired-to-death "Ride Wit Me" from a year earlier. The comparisons don't end there, but it's perhaps important to differentiate Willie from Nelly. The biggest difference between the two St. Louis rappers is no doubt production: Willie "JL" Woods and Alex "Big Al" Henry either produce or co-produce every track on Enter the Life of Suella, giving the album a very consistent and distinct sound. This production style characterizes Enter the Life of Suella as much as Pretty Willie himself and shouldn't be overlooked. Part of what makes the St. Louis scene is not so much the rappers but rather its unique style, and Woods and Henry certainly represent the "Midwest swing" the St. Lunatics had rapped about. Consequently, anyone who took a liking to Nelly's singsongy pop-rap and cuddly cute looks should appreciate Willie in much the same way.

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