Nelly is headed to Saudi Arabia for a concert with Algerian superstar Cheb Khaled, the BBC reports.
Nelly has been invited to perform by privately-owned Saudi television station MBC Action; the concert will also be sponsored in part by the Kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority.
نجم الراب العالمي نيلي وملك الراي الشاب خالد في مدينة المللك عبد الله الإقتصادية في 14 ديسمبر— MBC Action (@mbcaction) November 25, 2017
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Concerts like Nelly’s are a relatively new thing for the Kingdom. The conservative branch of Islam known as Wahhabism is a strong force in the nation; among other things, it promotes the prohibition of all intoxicating substances (including tobacco), modest clothing and gender segregation.
Because of that last tenet, Nelly’s concert will be for men only.
Several Saudis weren’t too happy about that.
Other Saudis weren’t too pleased about the concert in general.
On Twitter, a user known as noora wrote, “God, please do not hold us responsible for the actions of the foolish among us. What is even worse are the girls who are demanding to attend.”
إلى أين يا هيئة الترفية؟اللهم لا تؤاخذنا بما فعل السفهاء منا،،والأدهى البنات يطالبن بالحضور(استر علينا يارب) #نيللي_والشاب_خالد_في_السعودية— noora (@Lost_code) November 20, 2017
Another asked why on Earth MBC would invite Nelly to perform instead of Ariana Grande.
ابي اريانا قراندي😌 #نيللي_والشاب_خالد_في_السعودية— shosho (@xdvnal) November 19, 2017
Nelly’s past isn’t doing him any favors among critics in the Kingdom, either. Many wondered why a man who has been charged with drug possession, and worse, who was recently accused of rape would be invited to their country.
Too, it isn’t clear what songs Nelly will be able to perform.
When Toby Keith was invited to perform earlier this year during President Trump’s visit to the Kingdom, many of his songs proved problematic. Keith, whose catalog includes songs with titles like “Whiskey Girl,” "Drunk Americans" and “I Love This Bar,” was reportedly asked to tone down the sexual content and alcohol references in his work.
How Nelly will be able to sing his biggest hit, “Hot in Herre,” which famously instructs the recipient of Nelly’s desire to “take off all your clothes,” is a mystery.