Brass Knuckles

Music review by
Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Common Sense Media
Brass Knuckles Music Poster Image
Explicit, sexist album doesn't pull any punches.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Although Nelly indulges in a few sweet, romantic moments on a ballad or two, the overall impression is one of deeply ingrained sexism. Women are appreciated in the same way one appreciates an expensive possession or a momentary diversion ("You're the one I wanna spend this night with / tryin' to get in those drawers and bang it out till the morning").


The album title and some of the photos on the CD insert evoke violence, as do lyrics about "getting dirty looks from the LA cops" -- but Nelly does a lot more damage with his credit card.


Loaded with explicit and sexist lyrics: "You gotta freak that s--t, freak that s--t like you want it / You gotta show some ass / show some t-ts ... just like a marathon, girl, just ... go on, run it."


The "N" word is used frequently and gleefully, along with every other four-letter word.


Many clothing brand names are mentioned, especially in "Stepped on My J's," a celebration of a trip to the mall and the power of plastic ("Now I wanna take this time to thank my American Express / for allowing me to express my American the best").

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Nelly's nightclub exploits involve a cocktail or two.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there are no holds barred here in terms of racist and explicit language and sexist posturing (status-wise, women are equated to designer clothing and nice cars). Some clothing brands are mentioned, and the title invites violent associations.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of an infant and infant-year-old Written bymyawilliams March 16, 2009
Parent of a 18+ and 18+-year-old Written by9088349 March 16, 2009
Teen, 14 years old Written byspeyan727 September 11, 2018

What's the story?

On BRASS KNUCKLES, Cornell "Nelly" Haynes wants us all to know that he's "young, black, and rich" -- and proud of it. In between sexy come-ons over appealing, danceable tracks, Nelly gleefully struts his (very expensive, designer-labeled) stuff on songs about sticking up for yourself and your brothers, impressing women with upscale gifts, and living the party life while -- do we need to spell it out, really? -- not taking any "s--t."

Is it any good?

The album's lyrics are filled with the kind of expletives parents love to hate: the "N" word abounds (along with the other usual four-letter words), and the title invites pugilistic references and images ("Hold up or I pop your brains"). But it's the pervasive, sometimes subtle sexism that will be most disturbing to many parents. Women in Nelly's world are adored and admired in the same way you admire an expensive car or elegant wardrobe -- while being encouraged to "show some ass, show some t-ts, or show sumthin'" for the amusement of men.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the "N" word, which is used frequently on Nelly's new CD. Some people think it's no big deal, while others are deeply offended. How do you feel when you hear that word used? Is it OK for some people to use it but not others? Why or why not?

Music details

  • Artist: Nelly
  • Release date: September 16, 2008
  • Label: Universal
  • Genre: Hip-hop
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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