The Ride Wit Me Stream-a-Thon: One Student’s Journey to Pay Off Nelly’s Debts

Considering the strong commitment to public service at HLS, I’m certain that most of you are already doing your part to help Nelly pay the reported $2.6 million[1] he owes to the IRS and the state of Missouri. After all, we are indebted to him.

His music gave us all something cool to play when our friends came over to play on our Dreamcast.

His music allowed us to jokingly ask others to take off their clothes in a way that was slightly less creepy than if his song never existed.

His music redeemed an entire city which unfortunately is home to the most obnoxious baseball team in history.

Because of the paltry sums artists receive from streaming services, we will need to stream his songs as many as 426,956,666 times on Spotify in order to pay off his debts.[2] Some of you — most of you — all of you — are much busier than I am and do productive and impressive things with your time. I do none of that, so I decided to help Nelly the best way I can — playing “Ride Wit Me” repeatedly with every free minute I have. It’s playing right now as I type this actually. If you’re one of the many who do not have millions of hours to spare, don’t worry. I’ve done my best to recount my experience so far.

1st Listen: This. Is. A. Great. Song. I feel like my mom is driving me and my friends to laser tag. I feel like I’m awkwardly walking around the dance floor in 7th grade, trying to avoid eye contact with every girl in the gym. It feels like just yesterday. It feels like today. I feel immortal.

5th Listen: I like that part where Nelly says he likes the way you brush your hair. I wonder how he knows how she brushes her hair. I mean, I’m sure there’s a way to determine someone’s brushing method by looking at their hair. It’s just that I have no idea. But I like that Nelly really pays attention to the details.

15th Listen: The shout-out to Vanna White has always been one of the best parts of the song. I can just imagine Nelly sitting in his kitchen, eating dinner, and watching Wheel of Fortune, dreaming of the day he makes it big like those contestants who win the bonus round. This song, and album, celebrated his arrival as a pop culture star and financial success. The people on TV he grew up watching were now people he sat next to on airplanes. He had become a part of the world that he used to dream about, and we were all happy for him.

100th Listen: I have a serious headache. The song is really good, but I feel physically ill.  It’s sort of weird that he takes the time to highlight that he’s open to taking home 18 and 19 year olds. In 2000, he was 26, so it’s not that weird and it’s definitely legal. It just seems a bit odd that he wants to broadcast that about himself.

200th Listen: Pain. I just feel pain. The worst part of the song is the last chorus that fades out because it means that the whole thing is about to start again. There’s a cutting pain that runs from the back of my head to just above my right eye. I’m starting to lose the ability to form coherent thoughts. It’s hard to focus. I can’t seem to string together words in any way that makes sense.

300th Listen: The beginning of the song taunts me. Where they at? Where they at? I’m all alone, and Nelly knows it. I don’t remember the last time I saw another human being. Logically, it can’t have been more than 24 hours ago, but I can’t remember who it was or where I saw them. That forgotten last encounter feels final. I don’t think I’ll see another person again. All I have is Nelly now. Nelly is, and that is all.

500th Listen: I walk out of the room, trying to clear my head. But the chants of Hey, must be the money follow me wherever I go and call me back. There’s no escape from this. I see that now.

1000th Listen: Vanna White is a ghost. She appears suddenly and disappears just as quickly. She greets me at the midway point each time, waving at me, telling me that she’ll see me again soon. I endure those five painful minutes, just waiting to see her again. She’s all I have left. I mean, I still have Courtney B too, but I have no idea who that is. And that mystery terrifies me. Why is she inviting me to parties in NYC? She opens the door and welcomes me, beckoning me to step inside. I can hear Ride Wit Me playing inside, and I realize this isn’t a party at all. Two figures emerge from the shadowy corners of the room and grab my arms. I don’t struggle as they seat me and strap me to a chair. Courtney is no longer smiling. Where they at, she asks. Where they at? Where they at? Where they at? She looks angry as she unsheathes a knife looped to her belt. It’s about four inches long and has a serrated edge and an intricately carved wooden handle. I lift my head and close my eyes.

????th Listen: I know that this song is approximately five minutes long. But I also know that time is an illusion. How long have I been listening to it? How long have I been awake? Why did God create a world where we feel pain? Oh why do I live this way? Must be the meaninglessness of life. Oh why do I feel this way? Must be the steady approach of death. The Grim Reaper is here, and he wears a Band-Aid.

????+1th Listen: This. Is. A. Great. Song.

Robert Gustafson is a 2L.



Editor’s note: Due to taxes, Nelly will need as many as 600 million streams to pay off his tax debts. Also, Courtney B. is a male actor.

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