It's going to get hot in Saudi
In less than a month, St. Louis rapper Nelly is slated to perform in Saudi Arabia at a males only concert alongside Algerian singer Cheb Khaled. The performance is part of an initiative, lead by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to normalize music concerts in the country.
While the efforts to reintroduce public performances to Saudi citizens is nobele (events of this kind have been tightly restricted for some time), the “males only” tidbit may upset some of Nelly’s American fans. After all, some of Nelly’s biggest hits feature women artist. (How would “Dilemma” have sounded without Kelly Rowland? What would “Body on Me” have been without Ashanti?)
Making Space for Music
Nelly’s performance, which will take place in Jiddah on Dec. 14, will make him the second American artist to perform in the country. Over the summer, country music star Toby Keith performed alongside local lute player Rabeh Saqer in the capital, Riyadh. (Toby’s concert was also males only.) Afterwards, Toby revealed that he did not perform without restrictions, saying he could not sing about alcohol, marijuana or sex.
If Nelly is given those same limitations for his males only performance, the “Hot In Here” rapper may be facing a challenge.
Oh, and speaking of marijuana… As the date nears, conservative Saudi citizens are growing more and more uneasy about Nelly visiting their country because of his past with marijuana. Some conservatives are even protesting the performance, citing his recent drug activity as a reason Nelly should not be allowed to perform in December.
The drug activity Saudis are particularly upset about happened in 2015. While in Tennessee, the rapper’s tour bus was pulled over for a traffic violation. During the stop, officers reported to have smelled marijuana, which led them to search the bus. During the search, authorities found illegal drug paraphernalia. Afterwards, Nelly pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Though his probation sentence for the crime was cleared after 11 months, Saudis are still mad about it.
This may be a good time to reiterate that in Saudi Arabia drug offenders face the death penalty. More than that, alcohol is strictly banned and women are required to fully cover their bodies while in public.
Aside from the fact that a good chunk of Nelly’s music references things that are widely looked down upon in Saudi Arabia… and aside from the fact that Nelly was very recently in court for an offense that warrants the death penalty in the country… Nelly is also dealing with sexual assault allegations.
News of the allegations hit the internet early October. Less than eight hours after a women called Nelly out by name in an official police report, the Missouri native was charged with second degree rape and taken into custody. Nelly himself called the women’s claims “false allegations” and assured fans that the case would be dismissed after the facts were checked out.
Nelly’s lawyer also released a statement aggressively denying the allegations. “Nelly is the victim of a completely fabricated allegation. Our initial investigation, clearly establishes the allegation is devoid of credibility and is motivated by greed and vindictiveness,” the comment read. “I am confident, once the scurrilous accusation is thoroughly investigated, there will be no charges. Nelly is prepared to pursue all all legal avenues to redress any damage caused by this clearly false allegation.”
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