Single Review: Nelly & Christina Aguilera “Tilt Ya Head Back”

Tilt Ya Head Back
Album: Sweat
Year: 2004

This year’s MTV VMA’s provided little excitement, however, it was the performance of Nelly and Christina Aguilera’s “Tilt Ya Head Back” that got the attention.

Sampling from Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly,” Nelly and Aguilera trade lyrics and string each other along in the fiery “Tilt Ya Head Back.” Nelly introduces the sample with “someone give me the bassline,” which he approves of. Aguilera is commanding in the first verse, displaying a ballsy attitude in her voice (“I see you lookin’, uh/like what you see?/Boy, now don’t be shy/in the face of opportunity”). Nelly admits to his bashfulness in his part of the first verse (“she’s right ya know/she’s right”) Aguilera adds some sensuality with her “uhs uhs” in the background. Nelly flirts and responds with “you know what’s on my mind, yeah.”
Aguilera takes the majority of the pre-chorus the first time around and lets Nelly know that she’s not that kind of girl, but will she be for him tonight: “you came here looking for me (but uh uh)/but I don’t do that type of thing all the time, yeah/you want me to /come here boy/I got a little something for you.” Finally, in the chorus, she sings that she “needs to dance all night” with Nelly telling her to “tilt ya head back slowly.” Although suggestive, the tone is steamy but without the usual raunch which would accompany it.
Nelly is admiring her openness with her sexuality while Christina is in control of it throughout. There isn’t any degradation. It can be interpreted as Nelly and Christina dirty dancing without the indication of the subtext of sex.

In the second verse, Nelly explains that a possible relationship can go wrong or turn out to be a good experience. Aguilera agrees with “he’s right ya know/he’s right” Nelly takes the pre-chorus the second go-round and comes off being much more assured, considering he’s got the girl now. She also gets a chance to sing that she’s “got a little bit of this/a little bit of that.” But it’s during the “hustle for me, hustle for me” that Aguilera steals the song from Nelly. She’s charming and sexual, and dammit, she’s fully aware of it. Now buy her a drink, Nelly and make it the most expensive one.

Nelly surprisingly pulls off the singing well and Christina does what she usually does: takes over and makes the song her own, even it isn’t. However, that’s mostly due to her range and ability to intrepret lyrics by putting in even subtle nuances (and yes, I just realized I said subtle and Christina in one sentence


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