by John Tarpley
Even for casual fans of hip-hop, Riverfest bagging the "Freaks of the Industry" for this year's festival is epic. In the early-'90s explosion of L.A.-centric East Coast rap, Digital Underground provided an irreverent wit and G-Funk mutating hip-hop to offset the politically charged, status quo-shocking tone of the day. The group's conceptual debut album "Sex Packets" is essential listening, manic and lewd with classics like "Doowutchyalike" and, of course, the Edward G. Humphrey — better known as Humpty Hump — moment in the sun, "The Humpty Dance." Little Rock, this could be your only "chance to do the hump." Don't mess it up.
Sure, we can debate whether or not Nelly is still relevant in 2011. His last handful of singles slipped out of earshot as soon as they appeared, maybe because the St. Louis rapper has focused on his omnipresent clothing line, Apple Bottom Jeans, and his other business ventures instead of the music. We could debate it. Or we could talk about any how, 11 years later, you can resuscitate a dying party in a flash by throwing on, well, just about any of Nelly's first singles. "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)," "E.I.," "Hot in Herre," "Pimp Juice": Believe you me, they all work. He's made a career out of reconstituting schoolyard rhymes, rural twang and club-ready production into a tongue-twisting, juking style of rap that managed to capture the mood of the strange, genre-twisting thing known as Southern club rap with ass-shaking ease.