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Q&A with Tim McGraw and Nelly

The country star and the rap star discuss their hit collaboration, ''Over and Over,'' and the possibility of teaming up to run for political office

Tim McGraw likes to say he ''couldn't go pop with an a--hole full of firecrackers.'' But the country superstar has crossed over with ''Over and Over,'' a lovelorn ballad that's soared to the top of Billboard's two key Top 40 airplay charts in a mere four weeks — albeit with a little help from Nelly, whose Suit CD bears the unlikely collaboration.

''Over and Over'' has chart momentum that's unusual even for superstars. Were you expecting that?

NELLY Honestly, I thought the song was gonna be one of the best songs that I've — or we've — ever done, or one of the worst. I didn't think anything in between. It was truth or die.

McGRAW Nelly's management called mine and said Nelly had a country song he wanted me to do with him. And of course I heard it, and there ain't nothing country about it! Until I started singing on it — that kind of made it country.

Nelly, did you really think this was a country song?

NELLY No, I didn't exactly say that. [Laughs] That was kind of a [miscommunication] between our peoples. But yeah, I did think the guitar and the string part had just a little bit of a vibe...

McGRAW And who would have thought it would work?

Tim, your current country hit, ''Back When,'' is nostalgic for the days before ''they put pop in my country.'' What if someone does a hip-hop song saying, ''Hey, they put country in my hip-hop''?

McGRAW [Laughs] I think they should. ''They came in and f---ed up hip-hop, put country in it.'' But you know what? All music is soul music if it all comes from the same place in everybody's soul.

NELLY That's why it works, hip-hop and country, because they come out of poverty-stricken communities, so putting those together, it's gonna work — it just has to be done right.

Tim, you said in an article that you were a Clinton admirer and have considered running for office. Maybe you could turn the South Democratic again.

McGRAW [Laughs] I would hope. The only thing that I have to say about the election now is it's time for everybody to come together and pull some people up.

NELLY I think we made a huge step also in the fact that we were able to get so many people out to vote. I know that the outcome may not have been the way a lot of people expected — definitely not to my liking...

McGRAW Mine either.

NELLY But we got the hip-hop community involved for many elections to come.... [Laughs] Tim, you gotta run for office.

McGRAW Nelly, that would be a good ticket, you and me...

NELLY If you let me handle the paper. Let me be secretary of the treasury.

Originally posted Nov 19, 2004