When Nelly first debuted nationally in summer 2000, he seemed like a novelty, but it quickly became apparent that he was, in fact, an exceptional artist, a rapper with truly universal appeal. He wasn't from the East or West Coast, and wasn't really from the Dirty South, either. Rather, Nelly was from St. Louis, a Midwestern city halfway between Minneapolis and New Orleans. His locale certainly informed his rapping style, which was as much country as urban, and his dialect as well, which was, similarly, as much Southern drawl as Midwestern twang. Plus, Nelly never shied away from a pop-rap approach, embracing a singalong vocal style that made his hooks incredibly catchy. As a result, Nelly became an exceptional rapper capable of crossing all boundaries, from the Dirty South to the TRL crowd and everything in between. His first hit, "Country Grammar (Hot...)," became a summer anthem, and many more hits followed. In particular, his popularity peaked in summer 2002, when he topped seemingly every Billboard chart possible with his Nellyville album and its lead single, "Hot in Herre." Nelly was born Cornell Haynes Jr. in St. Louis, where he encountered the street temptations so synonymous with rap artists. And like so many of his contemporaries, a change in circumstance at a pivotal time in his life may have changed the course of Nelly's life. In his case, when he was a teenager, Nelly was taken away from those streets when his mother moved to nearby suburban University City. It was there that he shifted his attention to playing baseball, storytelling, and writing rhymes. With some high-school friends, Nelly formed the St. Lunatics, who scored a regional hit in 1996 with a self-produced single, "Gimmie What You Got." Frustrated with failed attempts to land a record deal as a group, they collectively decided that Nelly would have a better chance as a single act. The rest of the group could follow with solo albums of their own.
The gamble paid off, and soon Nelly caught the attention of Universal, who released his debut album, Country Grammar, in 2000. What distinguished Nelly's take on rap from others was his laid-back delivery, deliberately reflecting the distinctive language and Southern tone of the Midwest. The album featured contributions from the St. Lunatics as well as the Teamsters, Lil' Wayne, and Cedric the Entertainer, and spent seven weeks on top of the U.S. album charts. All along, Nelly's goal was to put his hometown of St. Louis and the St. Lunatics on the hip-hop map. Though Nelly had become a star as a solo artist as planned, he said that he is and always will be a member of the St. Lunatics, a collective that also includes Big Lee, Kyjuan, Murphy Lee, and City Spud. Nelly fulfilled his promise in 2001 with the release of Free City, the debut St. Lunatics album featuring the hit single "Midwest Swing."
The following summer Nelly returned with his second album, Nellyville, and lived up to his self-proclaimed "#1" billing. The album topped the Billboard album chart while the Neptunes-produced lead single, "Hot in Herre," remained atop the singles chart. In all, Nelly impressively held the number one spot on ten different Billboard charts the week of Nellyville's release. Few rap artists could boast such numbers, and Nelly surely savored his number one status, particularly after being dismissed as a novelty two summers earlier when he debuted. You could call him a pop-rapper if you liked, but you surely couldn't challenge his number one status. After all, his hit streak continued unabated, with "Iz U" (from his stopgap Derrty Versions remix album) and "Shake Ya Tailfeather" (from the Bad Boys II soundtrack) keeping him in the spotlight while he readied his double-disc Sweatsuit project (following the lead of OutKast and R. Kelly, who had both recently released very successful two-disc sets). The seperately released double album dropped in fall 2004, preceded perfectly by a pair of red-hot singles: "My Place" (a slow jam) and "Flap Your Wings" (a club jam). A stroke of commercial (and to an extent, creative) genius, the superstar-laced project catapulted Nelly back atop the pop-rap world, where his presence was peerless.
Nelly's half-sister dies of leukemia
The half-sister of Grammy-winning rapper Nelly died Thursday in hospital after a long battle with leukemia, the artist's publicist said.
Jacqueline (Jackie) Donahue had been diagnosed with leukemia on March 29, 2001. The cancer was in remission for nearly two years before she suffered a relapse, prompting Nelly to arrange a number of bone marrow drives. A match was never found.
Publicist Jane Higgins said Donahue, a 31-year-old mother of two, worked as Nelly's stylist until her illness forced her to leave that position.
Nelly was in Austin, Texas, for a concert Wednesday night and flew back to St. Louis on Thursday to be with his family.
A spokeswoman for Austin Layne Mortuary said funeral arrangements were pending.
In March 2003, Nelly and his half-sister formed a campaign called "Jes Us 4 Jackie" to find donors for Donahue and others, and to raise awareness about bone marrow donations.
Donahue's family said in a statement they were "deeply saddened" by her death and offered their thanks for those who had supported her and the bone marrow drives.
"We are very proud of her efforts to educate and raise awareness about the disease and the need for African-Americans to join the National Donor Registry," the family said.
"She will always be remembered for her loving spirit, energy and unshakable faith."
Nelly draws huge crowd, despite protests
Hip-hop star Nelly drew nearly 6,300 fans to his concert at Arkansas State University on Saturday despite well-publicised calls for a boycott by area ministers.
Hip-hop star Nelly drew nearly 6,300 fans to his concert at Arkansas State University on Saturday despite well-publicised calls for a boycott by area ministers.
Officials say no protesters were in evidence as the Hot In Herre rapper took to the stage at the Convocation Center.
A group of 20 Jonesboro, Arkansas, ministers had complained that Nelly's songs refer to drugs, sex and violence and called on people to tear up their tickets.
During a rally on March 1, the Reverend Adrian Rodgers of the Fullness of Joy Church said: "Jonesboro is a wonderful city because of what does not come here."
Nelly's concert at the northeastern Arkansas school was part of a nationwide tour.
Nelly Concert Boycotted By Ministers
St. Louis pop-rapper Nelly is under fire again as ministers from 20 churches have formed a coalition to protest his upcoming performance at Arkansas State University (ASU).
"When we started seeing some of the vile and filthy lyrics … we thought we should get involved," said the Rev. Adrian Rodgers of the Fullness of Joy Church. "Jonesboro is a wonderful city because of what does not come here."
Erroneously calling Nelly a "gangsta rapper," the ministers are boycotting the March 12th performance at ASU’s Convocation Center.
"We feel that the lyrics of 'gangsta rappers' are detrimental to society at large, but more specifically to the development of young people," Reverend Rogers said.
Rodgers said he is concerned about Nelly's lyrics that glorify references to drugs, sex and violence and demean women. He and the other pastors are urging the community not to buy tickets to the March 12 concert. According to the Convocation Center’s manager, over 5,000 tickets have already been sold.
"Tear the tickets up," Rodgers urged. "Do not go and do not allow your children to go."
The concert is part of a seven-date college tour that also features Nelly’s group, The St. Lunatics.
Nelly Lives Hoop Dream
Nelly got game...and then some.
The St. Louis-based rap star and burgeoning entrepreneur has officially become a minority owner in the National Basketball Association's expansion Charlotte Bobcats, it was announced Monday.
"This is a great opportunity for both the Bobcats and Nelly," Robert L. Johnson, the team's majority owner and the founder of Black Entertainment Television, said in a press release issued by the Bobcats. "Nelly is a great entertainer and a smart businessman and those two traits will serve us well as we prepare to tip off our inaugural season this fall."
Nelly (real name Cornell Haynes Jr.) joins a group of investors that includes former NBA player and executive M.L. Carr, NASCAR magnate Felix Sabates and former Bank of America chief Hugh McColl Jr.
"Of the many dreams that I have fulfilled in life, being an NBA owner is certainly one of the biggest achievements," Nelly said. "To be able to make this move with Bob Johnson and to be a part of the first-ever minority owned professional sports franchise in history is a great opportunity.
"Bob and I share the same commitment to diversity and we are both self-made, having worked up from the very bottom to reach where we are today."
No immediate word on whether "Hot in Herre" will become the Bobcats cheerleaders' anthem.
Financial details regarding Nelly's stake in the team were not disclosed. However, given the Nellyville rapper's ever-expanding business empire, it's likely to be some serious cash.
The three-time Grammy winner has launched multimillion-dollar clothing line, Vokal Clothing Co., and his own energy drink, Pimp Juice. Both have come under fire, however: Vokal is a being sued by two Orlando businessmen who claim they own the name, and Pimp Juice has been blasted by African-American groups who claim it glorifies the pimp lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Nelly has landed his first acting gig, with a prime role in Adam Sandler's upcoming remake of The Longest Yard; he will also contribute cuts to the soundtrack. He also has two separate albums on the way--Suit and Sweat--both due out Sept. 14.
As for hoops, now that's he's in good with the NBA, Nelly says his long-term goal is to bring back b-ball to his hometown.
"My dream is to bring a team into St. Louis," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday. "Now I'm trying to learn the ropes and getting the money together so when it's time it can be right for St. Louis."
But while Nelly is living his hoop dreams, another prominent hip-hopster has shot an airball.
New Orleans rhymer Master P, aka Percy Miller, failed to make the cut for the Denver Nuggets summer league team. It's the latest disappointment for the onetime high-school hoops star, who previously tried out for the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets (the team before the Bobcats) and had stints with the United States Basketball League's Atlantic City Seagulls, American Basketball Association's Las Vegas Rattlers and Continental Basketball Association's Fort Wayne Fury.
Nelly Nominated At Country Music Awards
NELLY AND MELLENCAMP SCORE CMT NODS
Rapper NELLY and rocker JOHN MELLENCAMP have each picked up a pair of nominations from the COUNTRY MUSIC TELEVISION (CMT) MUSIC AWARDS.
UNCLE KRACKER is also on the list of nominees, as are actors RICK SCHRODER and ADRIAN PASDAR. The latter two each earned nods as directors of country videos.
Cable channel CMT not only played Nelly's duet with TIM McGRAW, OVER AND OVER, but also the two clips for which Mellencamp is nominated, WHAT SAY YOU, with TRAVIS TRITT, and WALK TALL.
KENNY CHESNEY and McGraw top the nominations list with five each, followed by BIG & RICH, TOBY KEITH and GRETCHEN WILSON with four apiece. The most-nominated video is Wilson's REDNECK WOMAN, which landed four nods.
The preliminary nominees - which include eight in each category - are determined by a panel of American journalists and CMT staffers. The list will be pared down to four finalists per category by viewers who cast votes on website CMT.COM. Online voters also will choose the winners.
The final list will be announced on 16 March (05), and winners will be honoured at a two-hour live show in Nashville, Tennessee, on 11 April (05).
Nelly Quits Wearing Plaster As Its More Famous Than Him
NELLY'S PLASTER PROBLEMS
NELLY quit wearing his trademark facial plaster when the unusual accessory started attracting more attention than his music.
The hip-hop star's Band-Aid featured throughout the video for his 2002 duet with KELLY ROWLAND, DILEMMA, and Nelly admits he was quick to ditch the look when it became a hot topic in media circles.
The rapper also insists the plaster was never meant as a fashion accessory - it was merely a symbol of friendship to an imprisoned pal.
He says, "I used to wear it for my friend CITY SPUD, who's in jail. The idea was that when he saw me on TV or whatever he'd know I was thinking about him.
"But I had to take it off because it was becoming more of a story than I really wanted it to. It was becoming bigger than me. Everybody's asking about the Band-Aid and I'm like, 'It's just a fricking Band-Aid. I tell you what, I'll just take it off.'"
Nelly outrages White supremacists
A December 2004 MTV.com article in which Nelly refers to collaborator, Country singer Tim McGraw's wife as a "bad beeyatch" has angered White supremacists. More and more whiterevolution.com members are fuming over Nelly's comment and outraged that McGraw laughed it off and later said he respected the St. Lunatic. In several posts on the site's forum, members proceed to share their disgust for McGraw and call him a "wigger" and a "ni99a lover". Still, McGraw doesn't get half the tongue lashing Nelly receives. The site's members refer to Pimp Juice as "the ni99a" and call him "subhuman" several times. In one particular post, member Vere states, "I saw the grotesque and disgusting video on the country music channel of McGraw and the subhuman groid pretending to be equally human and having the same emotional needs and responses, etc. But I saw it just once and had difficulty at that time focusing on the words of the ni99a, being so disconcerted and angered just watching these two completely different species propagandizing sameness."
Nelly: Shooting Hoops and Gaining Yards in Nellyville
He's on the court with Tim McGraw and on the gridiron with Adam Sandler. Check his take on steroids and basket brawlers. Everybody wants to know what Nelly is up to next, and he's getting used to the question. After the runaway success of Nellyville and "Hot in Herre" the St. Louis rhymer pulled out the stops by releasing not one, but two albums: when they hit in the fall, Suit and Sweat fought each other for the No.1 spot.
The high school sports star admits there could be a day when he raps no more. That's why he's branching out into energy drinks and clothing lines, as well as film: he's got a part in the forthcoming Adam Sandler/Chris Rock comedy The Longest Yard. And he's still confounding the critics. His summit with C&W singer Tim McGraw should have been cornier than Hee Haw. Instead, "Over and Over" is a crossover monster.
Speaking with VH1.com Nelly was in expansive mood. Nope, he's still not 'fessing up to being more than "friends" with Ashanti, although he will cop to getting smoked on the court by McGraw and Sandler. The rapper was happy to share his views on steroids, B-ball brawls and why he's no role model.
VH1: What would you say has been one of your most pleasant memories of 2004?
Droppin' both of my albums.
VH1: What did you do when you heard Suit and Sweat had gone in at No. 1 and No. 2?
I was just like, "Wow." But I don't really do the cartwheel thing. It's funny 'cause people have always said they can't really read me. My mom and my sister can read the hell out of me. They always know if I'm happy. My sister knows me like the back of the hand.
VH1: "Over and Over." Why Tim McGraw instead of say, Big & Rich or Toby Keith?
No offense to any of those other ones, they all doing their thing. Me and Tim just clicked for some reason. I got the chance to hoop with Tim at the charity events and that was hot. Here it is, I have this country white boy out here and he is hoopin' for real. He was shootin' nice. Then we had the chance to talk and holla, and he was cool. We had similar backgrounds, being ... not so much on our own, but growing up with similar problems and issues.
VH1: Did you make the track because you grew up with country music?
No, I heard the track and was like "Man, someone needs to be on here singing this part." I thought, "Tim would be hot for this." It's nothing like I am this raging cowboy, nothing like that.
VH1: Have you hooped with anybody on The Longest Yard set?
Yeah, me, Adam [Sandler], everybody. We are tied at the moment like 5-5, if you can believe that. [Sandler] creates space. He has this f*ckin' bank shot and he does not miss this thing. You just see it comin' and are like, 'Uh oh. He is going glass." He is a hustler, too. He doesn't give it up.
VH1: Who is your character in the movie?
I play a running back called Earl Megget. He is like the first brother from the Jungle - the part of the yard where all the brothers hang out - that really sees what it is that Adam is putting together, as far as getting this team together to play against the guards. It wasn't a stretch at all. I think this is why it went as smooth as it did. Hell, I can play running back. And it's not like I haven't been in jail before.
VH1: You were in jail?
Hell, I think we have all been to jail at one time or another... I have done a few things in my time along the way.
VH1: LL Cool J said that one of the hardest things he has ever done was taking hits for Any Given Sunday. Did you have to do the same thing for The Longest Yard?
Yeah, but the biggest difference between me and L is, I have played ball before. He has never played. I have taken all types of hits, I did my own plays. I played all three majors in high school, it was just I had a better chance at baseball then the rest. Basketball, I came up a little short. Not that I'm saying I couldn't do it if I wanted to.
VH1: What do you think about baseball's steroid scandal?
It is definitely bad for the game, but I don't know of any pill that can make you hit a 95 mph fastball. If there is [one], there would be a lot more people taking them. You could probably count [as many] people that have failed being on steroids as the ones that have succeeded. But it is not a good thing. You would like to have a level playing field.
VH1: As part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, what was going through your head when you saw the Pistons/Pacers brawl on TV?
That was just bad for everybody all around. I do think that maybe Ron Artest and a few of the Pacer guys got a raw deal. You never want to justify going into the stands, but there is a fine line between defending yourself as a human being and controlling yourself. It works both ways. Just as they want Ron Artest to step up and be a man, there is a right for the guy who threw the cup not to throw it. You can't expect people to not react in ways you might react. I'm not agreeing [with] what he did, I am just seeing a reason why it happened.
VH1: Is it a curse that so many people take musicians and sports personalities as role models?
I always like to say, I don't see athletes and entertainers as role models, because you don't know the whole role of my life. You can be inspirations for people who are in a bad situation, but I think a role model should be someone who is closest to you. You should be able to see their whole role in life, how they carry themselves everyday, and not just when they are on TV or in magazines. You don't know everything I have been through and how I dealt with it. I would be a true hypocrite to sit here and tell you not to [do] this and that, knowing what I went through.
VH1: But at the same time people are going to look at you and your achievements and say, "This is the kind of thing I want to do."
Well, that is someone who gives you inspiration, and keeps your drive alive. I say, be better than Nelly. Be better than me. Why do you want to follow my role of life? You can't call Nelly if you have a problem. You can't call me and be like "Oh Nelly, I am about to commit suicide..." It should be someone you can call - a teacher, a student, a family member, or if you go to church, someone in your church, an uncle, or a grandparent. I mean you can't relate to my problems. You can't relate to a $50,000 Gucci ...
VH1: You spent $50,000 on Gucci?
I am just saying my role in my life isn't your role at the moment. They say role model this, role model that, but let's define what a role model is. It should be someone who you follow the role of their life and you are not following the role of my life right now. You just want my success.
Nelly And Ashanti Busted
Rapper Nelly and singer Ashanti have been downplaying their relationship in the past months, with each party providing the politically correct answer that they've only been on a few dates when questioned about the relationship. Unfortunately for the pair, their cover has been blown, as photographs of the two enjoying a walk on the beach in Anguilla have surfaced online and in magazines.
A spokesman for the photographer who took the pictures told Allhiphop.com, "The pictures were taken on January 5, 2005 on an island called Anguilla. They were on vacation. They noticed the photographer after a while, because one of the pics shows Nelly looking directly into the camera."
Nelly and Ashanti have been linked to each other since last summer. Actor Samuel L. Jackson also incriminated the duo during promotional interviews for his latest movie, Coach Carter, which also stars Ashanti. Jackson told reporters that Ashanti seldom ate the food provided by the catering staff on set because Nelly would visit regularly and bring organic food.
Nelly: From bottom to top
Nelly born Cornell Haynes Jnr., 2 November 1974, Austin, Texas, USA. Haynes had an itinerant childhood, moving to Spain at one point before ending up in the ghettos of St. Louis, Missouri. A talented baseball player, Haynes opted instead to form the St. Lunatics rap crew with high school friends Kyjuan (b. Robert Cleveland), City Spud (b. Lavell Webb), Big Lee (b. Ali Jones), Murphy Lee (b. Tohri Harper), and Slow Down (b. Corey Edwards). The St. Lunatics enjoyed a local underground hit in 1996 with "Gimme What Ya Got", but despite this success they failed to persuade any major labels to offer them a recording contract.
In 1999, Nelly opted to pursue a solo career and was signed to Universal Records. The regional popularity of his singles translated into national success when Country Grammar, his debut collection, took over from Eminem at the top of the US album chart and stayed there for several weeks. Suddenly, all the talk was of new Midwestern talent to rival the southern stars of labels such as Cash Crew Records and No Limit Records. While Jason Epperson's electro-funk backing tracks owed an obvious debt to Timbaland's syncopated beats, Nelly's rhyming style offered an interesting new angle with a smooth flow tailor made for the crossover urban R&B market.
The lyrics deviated little from the modern rap blueprint, encompassing crime ("Greed, Hate, Envy"), sex ("Thicky Thick Girl") and macho posturing ("Batter Up"), but the big radio-friendly hooks on tracks such as "Country Grammar (Hot sh*t)", "Ride Wit Me", and "St. Louie" offered the real clue to Nelly's unexpected popularity.
The St. Lunatics crew released their debut album the following June, enjoying a commercial success on the back of Nelly's popularity. The rapper returned to the US charts in his own right in June 2002 with the chart-topping hit single "Hot In Herre". The attendant Nellyville debuted at number 1 in the album charts the following month, while the album track "Dilemma" (a duet with Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland) nestled in behind "Hot In Herre" at the top of the singles chart.
"Air Force Ones" also reached the Top 5 at the end of the year. The following autumn, Nelly teamed up with P. Diddy and Murphy Lee to record the chart-topping "Shake Ya Tailfeather", featured on the soundtrack of the movie Bad Boys II.
By now Nelly was overseeing a merchandising empire including two clothing ranges and the unappetisingly titled Pimp Juice energy drink, in addition to maintaining his music and acting careers. A strangely characterless figure, he had become equally well known in the media for sporting a sticking plaster on his cheek (allegedly to show solidarity with the imprisoned City Spud) than for his rapping abilities.
Nevertheless, by the time he released two separate albums on the same day in September 2004 Nelly had established himself as one of the most successful rap artists of the new millennium. The up-tempo Sweat was the better of the two, with guest producers the Neptunes on particularly fine form for "Flap Your Wings", while other stand-out tracks included "Na-Nana-Na", "River Don't Runnn" and "Tilt Ya Head Back" (featuring Christina Aguilera). The companion piece Suit was a less engaging collection of R&B ballads distinguished only by the sultry "My Place". The media on both sides of the Atlantic made great play of the fact that Nelly was no longer wearing the sticking plaster on his cheek.
Nelly Hot On Her...
You just can't trust some people to keep a secret, can you? And when they're internationally famous film stars talking to the press, it seems you can trust them even less.
That's the hard lesson Ashanti and Nelly have learned, after revelations of a secret affair have been leaked to the press by none other than Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson.
Sam is in a perfect position to confirm rumours of the affair, as he's just been working with Ash on her feature film debut. He's been telling the press that Nelly was a frequent visitor to the film set, and even brought special organic vegetarian meals in once he found out Ashanti didn't like the film food. He commented: "Let's just say I ate more craft service because Nelly wasn't bringing food to me every day."
But the twosome don't want news of their relationship being spread all over the tabloids, apparently out of respect for Ash's ex, record exec Irv Gotti. Not that any of this has stopped flap-mouth Jackson, of course.
Nelly wants who?
We had Nelly and Kelly. But what about Nelly and Nelly Furtado?! With a new duet with Christina Aguilera ('Tilt') in the charts, we asked rapper Nelly what his next collaboration might be.
Q: You must gets lots of offers to collaborate with other artists?
Nelly: A lot of people do call, yeah. But it's a good thing. I think you have to differentiate between people who genuinely want to work with you to create something different and people who want to work with you just to boost their sales. You just have to ask yourself what it is you're trying to do when you're working with another artist because if it's just about getting sales than you're short changing your fans who support you all year round.
Q: You've worked with Christina Aguilera on your new single, 'Tilt'. Would you consider working with Jessica Simpson or Hilary Duff? They're like early, pre-'Stripped' versions of Christina!
Nelly: Well, you know, first of all it has to feel right. You have to find the perfect song. I'd never say never to those artists. Who knows? I never thought I'd work with Christina or Tim McGraw (Country artist who duets with Nas on his recent 'Suit' album). I never thought I'd record 'Girlfriend' with NSync but you know, but that came out good. As far as Jessica and Hilary go, I like what they do so you know, never say never!
Q: Would you record for John Kerry or George Bush? Where do your political leanings lie?
Nelly: Probably neither one. I would have done it for Bill Clinton though!
Q: You did a song with Kelly Rowland ('Dilemna') which was great because your names rhymed! But would you record a song with Nelly Furtado? It's ideal!
Nelly: I get that question so much! She told me a story about how she'd get asked that question so much too. She used to like to mess with people and open her shows with 'Hot In Herre'!
Q: Did you start your shows with 'I'm Like A Bird'?
Nelly: No, I love that song though. That's the thing. She loved what I do and I think she's great too.
Q: Paris Hilton might be recording some rap songs. She probably needs some help. Would you ever consider guesting on her stuff?
Nelly: Nah. I'm cool, thanks! I like her show The Simple Life but that's as far as it goes.
Q: Is there anyone you've wanted to duet with and it just hasn't worked out?
Nelly: No, we've pretty much done everything we wanted to do. Me and Usher have talked about doing some things. That might be the next thing but I don't know yet. We're still talking about it.
Q: You'll kick yourself if Usher gets in and duets with Paris Hilton instead!
Nelly: Yeah, (laughs). If that happens I'd clap for him. Ha ha.
Nelly : Beef & Broccoli
Nelly was thrown into the KRS-One situation a few years ago and was rushed with opposition. With scrutiny coming from Chingy, Nelly has a chance to flex his seniority, his muscle, and his mouth.
But before the battle paint is spread, Nelly also takes time to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King on his day, and also Nelly’s continued charity devotion. Here, we get two new sides of Nelly. In a very mature conversation, Nelly addresses why he dismisses Chingy’s commentary, and why he feels MLK is Hip-Hop-drenched relevant in our times.
AllHipHop.com: I know that you have recently donated a large sum of money to a Dr Martin Luther King charity, why is he special to you and what prompted you to do that?
Nelly: My whole life I have been learning about Dr. King and that is something that is embedded in our minds. We as black people have very few world icons and Dr. King was definitely one of them. He is one like if you have to do an essay you would do it on Dr. King or Malcolm X, because you are enthused about that. While everybody is choosing names out the hat your like give me Malcolm or Dr. King. I really wasn’t enthused about school, but when it came down to that I didn’t mind doing an essay about that. With Dr. King, you definitely believed what he was saying as far as the unity thing and time to over come. I mean what else can you say about Dr. King that hasn’t been said. He is the only brother we have a national holiday for. So that in itself speaks volumes. I wanted to contribute to his legacy. I wanted to be one of the names on the wall that helped with this project I definitely believed that it was time. I felt that it would have a great impact I was in Washington, directly across from Jefferson and people who have made this country. I definitely feel like he has made this country what it is today.
AllHipHop.com: Can you speak on your Tsunami Relief efforts?
Nelly: I think it is real f***ed up what happened. That is a tragedy beyond words. I stay probably like a good 30 miles from the arch downtown, and I can’t imagine water reaching me from the riverfront, and in order for it to reach me it would have to destroy so much. This is history. This is what will be in textbooks in years to come, it is not one of those incidents that was tragic, and people have to put it on a trivia card, but this is history. It doesn’t only effect the country it hit it affects the world. I do a lot of charity work, I am very much a focus point in my community, so I felt I had to do what I can. I don’t know how much of me doing what I am doing is going to help, but I know I tried. I was watching an interview with this young lady who said how she lost her child and husband, she said that she was holding her child and when she came up she didn’t have a child no more. That got to me. I have two shorties. So for me to have them in my hand, and to come above water and not have them anymore is like a nightmare. That made me feel like I had to do something.
AllHipHop.com: You also have your previous charities, right?
Nelly: Just us for Jackie is a stem cell donorship, [and it] is getting people to sign up - not just African Americans, but we do need more African Americans, because our bone marrow is more compatible then any other ethnic group on this planet, and could match so many. We are still doing the drives and my sister has not yet found a donor but we have been able to find donor for others, and hopefully save lives. I am working on the premier of The Longest Yard and we are putting something together were we have a premier in St. Louis, and all of the funds will be donated to the For Sure to Kids and Just us for Jackie. Adam Sandler and hopefully, Chris [Rock will] come down. Actually the Long and Sure album is coming out on my label, Dirty E&T so be checking for that.
AllHipHop.com: Would you like to comment on the so-called beef with Chingy?
Nelly: Where I was standing at from the jump, was me giving respect to those who have paved the way for what I was doing and the successes that I had. I always thanked people like LL, Grind, and everybody that helped make it happen. For me to hear him say that I have nothing to do with his success coming out of St. Louis - I am not asking him to say thanks to Nelly, don’t be corny, but when you’re in the magazine saying, ‘Nelly didn’t have nothing to do with me coming out from St. Louis’. So I was like, ‘That is cool, if that is how you want to look at it’. We have our own turmoil in our city, just like in every city as far as words being passed in the he say/she say mess. As far as my career has been, I don’t play into it. The “Boy” song off my album had already been out on my album and I was trying to figure out what person would call a press conference to say they have a diss record? I thought that you put the diss record in the streets and the streets tell you what is up. I didn’t know that you call a press conference to say you have a diss, and do the diss after you have seen and talked to me in Vegas. If you had a problem with me, you should have told me in Vegas, face to face as a man, because how are you going to be in my face and not even mention that? I had to find out on MTV News that Chingy has a diss record about Nelly. To my understanding, and you know I am not a battle rapper, but regardless I am from the streets, and you don’t call a press conference to handle your business. So I was like, ‘Okay little brother, I can see you’re desperate’. But if that is what he wants to do, alright. I understand battling is the essence of Hip-Hop. But I just don’t understand why he is sending people my way saying that he just want to talk.
AllHipHop.com: You had that one line on the album, do you think he blew it out of proportion?
Nelly: Yeah, I think he blew it out of proportion and let people fill up his head. Like the song says, ‘I like it how you do it right thur, you just so remember why you do that right thur’. That was my whole position so I was like, ‘Well he had a chance to tell me he had a problem with that when he saw me’.
AllHipHop.com: Where were you in Vegas?
Nelly: At the Radio Music Awards. My album came out in September the awards were in October; my album was out already and even earlier in St.Louis. So he had plenty of time to hear that and I am sure people brought it to his attention, so if he had a problem he could have said it face to face. If you feel you need someone to validate your credibility, then that means you had no credibility within yourself to begin with. See, I don’t need no one to validate what I have been through my whole life, because what I have been through I been through, so I can’t ask someone I have only known for two year to validate 28 years of my life. That was the same thing with the Ludacris thing. He was like, ‘Yo what’s going on, everybody is wondering what’s up?’ Ludacris came to my hotel room and said we ain’t got no beef between any one of us, and that was it. However, Chingy has a problem with standing up and being a man, and that is the only thing, but if this what he wants to do I will help him.
AllHipHop.com: Are you going to respond in a song?
Nelly: I have to, I am still a rapper, first. I can show you rumor contrary to what it is and I wouldn’t because he is not the first one to take shots at me. Had this been any other rapper, I would have brushed it off and kept it moving. But when I spoke to [him] face to face, [he] didn’t have none of the words [he was] saying on the diss album. But it is a desperate cry, and I am going to give him what he wants. He is in my city now; where I roll, and my stomping grounds. I could understand if he was from the East, the West, or even a different city in the Midwest, but you don’t do it in my city where my family, my cats and my peoples stay. I am not saying I am trying to take it outside of music, because that is not what I allocate and what I represent.
AllHipHop.com: Game had a line directed to you, what are your thoughts on that?
Nelly: Well, at the Vibe awards I saw Game asked him if he had a problem with me and he said no. I did the same thing with 50, and it was cool. But I don’t know if that is how they do - say one thing in your face, and another thing, but that is not what I do. If I tell you something in your face, then that is what I mean. I am not trying to be out here starting no wars or cause any more violence. Hip-Hop has enough issues right now, and I am not trying to add no fuel or allocate nothing. The point is that they are blatantly lying right now. You’re telling me one thing in my face and another on a diss record.
Nelly Donates 50k To Martin Luther King Jr. Monument
St. Louis, Missouri native Nelly presented a $50,000 check as a donation to the Martin Luther King Memorial Project Foundation.
The donation will help build a memorial on the mall in Washington, D.C., in honor of the civil rights legend, who was assassinated in 1968.
Founders of the project hope that the monument will educate people about King and his accomplishments.
"I think anytime you can be in conjunction with a great man such as Dr. King, it's only right," Nelly told the St. Louis American.
The memorial will cost almost $100 million dollars to build and maintain. Organizers say they have already raised $65 million.
The foundation has until 2006 to collect the additional $35 million to break ground and start building the monument.
"The memorial will commemorate King's legacy and belief that every human being is valuable and necessary and that each of us is universally deserving of equitable access to the democratic ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," said Harry Johnson, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Monument Project Foundation.
Nelly: "Chingy Has A Problem Being A Man"
Nelly has promptly responded to fellow St. Louis rapper Chingy's dis record "We Got," which is featured on AllHipHop.com. In the song, Chingy also takes issue with his cross-town rival and former mentor Ludacris of Disturbing Tha Peace Records.
A normally cheerful Chingy spews, "I heard that song, boy; it ain't another, boy. Better keep my name out your mouth, boy/ ... I been discovered, boy; that's why you hatin', boy/ ... The media hyped you, boy/ KRS crushed you, boy/ ... Put up the chains, bars and the platinum teeth, boy/ And bring the drama beef, trouble to the streets, boy/ You started it, boy/ Well, I'mma finish, boy."
Immediately, Nelly dismissed the rougher notions expressed in the song.
"[I saw him] at the Radio Music Awards [in Las Vegas]. My album came out in September. The awards were in October. My album was [bootlegged] even earlier in St. Louis," Nelly told AllHipHop.com. "So he had plenty of time to hear that and I am sure people brought it to his attention, so if he had a problem he could have said it face to face."
On Sweat, Nelly offered a single line aimed at Chingy without directly stating his name, a lyric he said was blown out of proportion.
In a mid-western slang, Nelly lamented, "The song says, 'I like it how you do it right thurr [there]/You just to remember why you do that right thurr.' That is all the truth and I am like 'I am not lying to you, little guy.' I could have said "F**k that right thurr."
Chingy expressed his issues with Nelly to MTV, stating, "I'm tired of these guys - I'm talking about Ludacris and Nelly - I'm tired of these guys taking shots at me in all these interviews and songs [with] subliminal shots. Business is business. I'm the one who sold three million records, and I'm still getting money back that [Disturbing Tha Peace] had in their possession. Ludacris knows what I'm talking about." Chingy departed Luda’s DTP crew last year.
While Ludacris wasn't available for comment, a rep for Nelly pointed out that the rapper's Country Grammar moved 9 million units and his sophomore effort, Nellyville, sold upwards of 6 million.
"Chingy has a problem with standing up and being a man so if this [is] what he wants to do, I will help him," Nelly said, visibly angered.
Not only is this beef more-or-less personal, Nelly said it was disrespectful considering he's the trail blazing artist of St. Louis Hip-Hop.
"I have to [reply], I am still a rapper first - I can show you contrary to rumor. He is not the first one to take shots at me," Nelly said recollecting his highly flammable beef with KRS-One. "But this one affects me on a personal level because he is from St. Louis and this is a different relationship. Had this been any other rapper, I would have brushed it off and kept it moving."
At press time, Nelly had not released his dis record. He still has a pair of albums, Sweat and Suit, lingering on the Billboard Charts.
Nelly: 'I'm Not A Role Model'
Rap superstar Nelly hates the idea that fans see him as a role model, because he thinks people should choose someone closer to their lives.
The chart-topper has experienced highs and lows in his lifetime, and even spent time in jail - but he refuses to accept his bad behaviour makes him a negative role model.
Nelly says, "I don't see athletes and entertainers as role models, because you don't know the whole role of my life. You can be inspirations for people who are in a bad situation, but I think a role model should be someone who is closest to you.
"You should be able to see their whole role in life, how they carry themselves everyday, and not just when they are on TV or in magazines. You don't know everything I have been through and how I dealt with it."
"I would be a true hypocrite to sit here and tell you not to do this and that, knowing what I went through."
Nelly: It's Gettin' Busy In Here
A clothing line, two albums, a movie and an upcoming tour — Nelly says it all feels so good.
"I'm just working," the rapper said on the set of the remake of "The Longest Yard" in New Mexico. "It feels so good to be working. For a long time I wasn't. Now I am and I'm keeping it going."
Nelly's second turn in a movie (the first to make it to the big screen) is sure to have people talking, especially since he's working alongside the world's funniest man in Chris Rock and another laugh guru, Adam Sandler.
But what really got people at his label talking was when Nelly informed them he wanted to put out two albums at once, Sweat and Suit, which were released last Tuesday. It's hard to ever take that trademark smile from hip-hop's top-selling country boy, but Nells informed his folks he was dead serious.
"I started out wanting to do one album, but I just did so much material. I wanted to make sure I got all of it out. It's been working out so far," he said, referring to the success of the Sweat single "Flap Your Wings" and the Suit single "My Place."
Taking a break from his hectic schedule, Nelly recently sat down with MTV News to talk about how "Country Grammar" met up with country music, which of his "Longest Yard" co-stars should be making videos, and what "Tilt Ya Head Back" really means (sort of).
MTV: Right off the bat, we have to address the Tim McGraw collaboration "Over and Over." How in the world did the two of you hook up?
Nelly: Tim and his wife, Faith [Hill], are kinda country royalty. I would see them all the time around awards shows, especially when Country Grammar came out. They would tell me how much they enjoyed my stuff. I thought that was hot, especially coming from people like them; the highest of the highest. Then, you know, Tim can ball. I used to be in some of them celebrity games. You know, in those celebrity games you don't want to pass the ball to everybody, but Tim is one of them people that you're like, "Oh yeah, Tim can go." Then the opportunity just came that we could finally do something that might work, that people might not frown up at. You know people gonna make their judgments about it, but if it's a good song, it's a good song. That's just that good money right therre!
MTV: What about you and X-tina? People are saying your performance was one of the highlights of the VMAs. What was it like putting together the song "Tilt Ya Head Back" with her?
Nelly: It's real funked, it's real crazy. Baby girl ... Man, she's amazing as an artist and as a person. She's a cool person. She really killed the song.
MTV: So what does "Tilt Ya Head Back" mean? The title leaves a lot to the imagination.
Nelly: [He laughs.] I don't know. The world's gone mad. Everything is so on the down low. But nah, it's a dance vibe. "Tilt Ya Head Back" is just the title. If you listen to the song, I think you'll get the real idea of it. Christina did her thing, I just happen to be on it. I can't say enough about her, she's incredible.
MTV: Once an artist has put up huge numbers for a few years, they seem to cool off. Building anticipation for one new album can be tough, but you've got an enormous amount of people heading to the store to buy two of your albums at the same time.
Nelly: It feels good to have the anticipation on any album I drop, but definitely on this project because I put a lot of work into this project. When I first said I wanted to do this, people looked at me and kinda laughed. They thought I was joking. I talked to the label and asked them first of all could this be done? And they came back with a couple examples of who did it — Bruce Springsteen, Guns N' Roses. But they said this would be the first time it was done in hip-hop. I was like, "Well, I'm all for doing something new, doing something fresh." Fortunately, people have supported me on both sides of the music I do. They supported [my club songs] "#1," "Hot in Herre," "Air Force Ones" and all that. But they also supported [the slower joints] "Dilemma," "Pimp Juice" and "Ride Wit Me." So I just split it up and gave everybody their own different album.
MTV: The most surprising thing on your albums probably wasn't the collaborations but the content in some of the songs, particularly on "Die for You" when you talk about your 10-year-old daughter and your young son.
Nelly: I thought it was important I opened up a little more. Talking about my shorties and all that, I never really did that before because I thought that was all I had left. I gave so much once I got into this game, and the fans accepted me the way they did, I thought that was the only thing I had left. But yeah, I thought it would be good to separate the albums and give them a little bit more serious [topics as well].
MTV: It can't be too serious on the set of "The Longest Yard" with Chris Rock and Adam Sandler as your co-stars.
Nelly: Chris Rock. You want to talk about constant jokes? He shoots them, so be prepared.
MTV: What about Adam Sandler? He's been known to rap. Have you heard any of his music during your downtime?
Nelly: He gets down too. I told him he needs to be shooting a video. Everybody's so chill. Like I said, Rock is cool. Adam is as chill as they come. Adam is a cool white boy. He hangs out with the brothas.
MTV: It's a good thing you're getting back into movies. We wouldn't want "Snipes" to be your last film ever.
Nelly: At first it was kind of strange because I was getting a lot of offers to do some things. Fortunately the music has been so good to me. The fans have been overwhelming and I've just been so busy. A lot of movies need three and four weeks to film. The timing wasn't right. I thought this would be the perfect film for me — something I can relate to, playing football.
Nelly's new masterpiece ''Sweat/Suit
Blame OutKast. André 3000 and Big Boi's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below provided false hope that any hip-hop double album can be artistically satisfying and commercially feasible. So now Nelly, who barely has enough ideas to fill one album, feels confident he can create a two-sided pop masterpiece, Sweat/Suit.
Loosely organized around two themes -- Sweat is filled with club bangers, street anthems and shout-outs, while Suit serves up lusty R&B jams, earnest love songs and tender odes to family -- this pair of pop albums is meant to showcase opposing sides of Nelly's personality. They do demonstrate his range, floating between a funk-pop duet with Christina Aguilera ("Tilt Ya Head Back") and a broken-hearted ballad with country star Tim McGraw ("Over And Over") with ease. And since Nelly's distinctive sing-song flow makes him a musical chameleon, Nelly proves equally adept making danceable party anthems ("Flap Your Wings"), reggae-tinged raps ("River Don't Runnn") or cool '70s funk ("She Don't Know My Name"). The downside of this pop predilection is when Nelly overextends himself, like on "N Dey Say," which so blatanly samples Spandau Ballet's "True" that even P. Diddy would blanch. These misfires show that, despite success in a few different genres, Nelly doesn't have a strong enough personality for such a sprawling project.
Nelly Is Dating Ashanti
NELLY AND ASHANTI: IT'S OFFICIAL
Hip-hop star NELLY has finally confirmed reports he is dating R&B singer ASHANTI, after over a year together.
The HOT IN HERRE hitmaker, 30, began his secret relationship with the 24-year-old FOOLISH beauty in November 2003.
SAMUEL L JACKSON told reporters earlier this week (begs06DEC04) the rapper had been a regular visitor to the set of his forthcoming film COACH CARTER, bringing organic vegetarian meals to Ashanti, who also stars in the movie.
Nelly reluctantly admits he is romancing Ashanti, saying, "She's single and I am single. Have we dated? Yes. We enjoy each other's company and we're cool."
Nelly 'smoked cannabis with Justin Timberlake'
Nelly has revealed he smoked cannabis with Justin Timberlake.
The rap star became friends with the pop heartthrob after recording hit single 'Work It' together last year, and Nelly says the pair have enjoyed some wild nights out together.
He told Britain's FHM magazine: "You know I had to smooth my man out.
Justin's a good guy. We did a Grammy party in New York. Me Justin and the rest of N-Sync.
"There were girls getting naked, dancing on tables. It was a crazy ass party. I think everybody enjoyed it."
The 26-year-old rapper also admitted he and Justin liked to gamble, but insisted their betting habits were under control.
He said: "I do a little bit of gambling but not so much it's gonna put me in trouble.
"Me and Justin will go out to the casinos when we're in Vegas."
Justin, who is romancing Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz, recently said cannabis should be legalised.
He said: "It would cut the crime rate in half. All the stoners I know are too paranoid to do anything stupid."
Nelly: 'I Can't Sing'
Hip-hop star NELLY is amazed he's forged a successful music career - because he can't sing.
The HOT IN HERRE rapper would never describe himself as a singer, because his fans know he can only rap and would "tear (him) apart".
He tells "I'd probably do okay for a rapper, but if I was to call myself a singer, I think people would tear me apart.
Nelly: 'I Do Pop Music'
R+B star NELLY is sick of receiving criticism for being "commercial" - he insists popularity is nothing to be ashamed of.
The HOT IN HERRE singer claims he has not intentionally written songs with mass-market appeal, but he is proud people like them.
He tells, "I've been able to appeal, but who hasn't?
"Is 50 (CENT) a commercial rapper? He sold 6 million albums, you know. JAY-Z sold 5 million albums on an album before. And once you get to a certain (point), you are pop music.
"It's funny because a lot of rappers say that, until they achieve that type of success, and then you see a slight change in them. At least mine been the same since day one.
Dupri and Nelly Giving Back To Atlanta Children
Jermaine Dupri and Nelly will host “Atlanta’s Biggest Christmas Party,” tonight in Atlanta, Georgia.
The event will take place at the Dunbar Recreation Center, where the celebrity rappers will hand out over 3,000 toys.
“I feel that it’s a must we take care of our kids,” Dupri told AllHipHop.com. “They see more bad stuff than good and I am just happy that I can give back like this.”
Dupri said that he and Nelly spent a combined $10,000 to purchase the toys for the 1,200 children who will attend the event.
In related news, Dupri told MTV that he would be executive producing a new album for his girlfriend, Janet Jackson. Dupri, who has placed records on the charts consistently for almost 10-years, recently scored a #1 record with Alicia Keys and Usher's hit single, "My Boo." He said that Jackson's new album would be out in 2005.
“We start that next year," Dupri said. "For this record, it's gonna be all dance…these [younger artists] are sloppy, they don't take it as serious as she do.”
Nelly is Hip Hop’s Midwest Middleman
Nelly burst onto the Hip Hop scene in 2000...many thought he would be one of a number of "commercially" successful acts of the time that would garner their 15 minutes of fame and then fade into history...not, Cornell Hayes though. He has proven that he is an artist and much more...optimizing the "middle-ground" of US Hip Hop.
Nelly is a combination of his mid-west roots...his trademarked "country grammar" added the southern edge to Hip Hop which would be driven harder by southern "krunk" acts. He has been responsible for some of the last 4 years summertime classics from 'Hot In Herre' to his hit with fellow St.Lunatic Murphy Lee and P-Diddy on 'Shake Yo' Tailfeather' that took off in November 2003 as part of the Bad Boys II soundtrack and rolled from radio to video throughout summer 2004.
Rest assured Nelly always has something in the bag for summertime slang and club beat anthems.
Born in St. Louis, Nelly grew up in the 'Loo, Minneapolis and New Orleans. Like most Hip Hop artists the streets influenced his growth. He had the opportunity to live a somewhat middle class lifestyle after his mom's work moved them to nearby University City...where young Cornell was able to excel in school sports like baseball. he was also able to develop his writing and story-telling skills....this lead to him forming his first and only group, "The St. Lunatics". In '96 they managed to move some units in the St. Loo underground scene with the single, 'Gimme What You Got.'
Unfortunately, the sale and popularity of the single did not garner label A&R's and execs knocking down the Lunatic's studio door. Soon, the Lunatics decided that they should have a front man...someone who they would get behind and get in the door. That front man would be the group's founder, Nelly.
In 2000, Nelly blew the hell up and the rest is history...'Country Grammar' 2000, in 2001 Nelly used profits from "Grammar" to produce the "Free City" album with the. St Lunatics. Then in 2002, Mr. Hayes hit it big again witht the release of his 2nd joint, "Nellyville", which topped the Billboard album charts for weeks.
Soon after Nelly joined the ranks of other Hip Hop entrepreneurs when he launched his Vokal and Apple Bottom clothing lines, Derrty Entertainment label, Pimp Juice energy drink, Fo' Sho Kids charity foundation...He even sponsors a US NASCAR racing team.
Nelly has also been working diligently in regards to organ donation and bone marrow transplant donors due to a life threatening illness faced by his sister.
In late 2003, he dropped the "Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention" which featured remixed versions of 'Hot in Herre', 'Ride Wit Me', 'E.I.', and 'Air Force Ones'.
Now, almost a year after that release Mr. Hayes hass released not one...but TWO albums. Entitled respectively..."Nelly: Sweat" and "Nelly: Suit."
HHDX had a chance to talk with Nelly during one of the few breaks in his hectic schedule.
You are definitely doing it this time...what possessed you to put out two albums?
They started out as one album…then I started looking at all that I had...so I did something new with it...using the sweat/suit concept.
Two albums though and you been putting in mad work since 2003...and you got two albums done in how long?
Month...month and a half tops. I went in the studio and started putting stuff together and went "Dayum!" because I realized how much I had really done.
How do you work when you make an album...what's the studio process like?
We just go in and chop it up if you know what I'm saying...I don't go into the studio with a particular genre or type of song...whatever is in my head at the time, I try to set a track up for it and work it from there...that's where the two album concept came from...I wanted so much that I realized that I had a lot of fans out there that have rolled with me on all the different tastes that my music has had over the last four years.
You've done ya damn thang when it comes to collaborations...working from 2003's "Shake Your Tailfeather" to duets with Kelly Rowland, "Tilt Ya Head Back" with Christina Auilera and Jaheim on "My Place"...how have you managed to work that "personal" approach to you music when you collab?
It takes a lot of work, because of the scheduling conflicts that all artists have. I managed to work with Christina in the studio for the entire production...and Jaheim was just crazy...he was always on the east coast and I was in LA…so it was a lot of 2 ways and phone calls with the receiver up to the speakers. It all worked out in the end, though.
You even worked with country music star Tim McGraw...what was that like and how the hell did it happen!?!
Tim has people in St. Loo...his wife comes from right outside the city in the suburbs and Tim used to holla at me every time he saw me at the awards shows...and he would be like "I really like 'Country Grammar'...that shit was crazy man...I mean hear you got two of the biggest names in country music...Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and they are showing me love for my shit. Besides...I was raised on all forms of music...not just Hip Hop. Plus, Mr. McGraw got some hoop skills...I found that out during a celebrity basketball game we played in...we've been in a few others together since and we kick it once in a while...who would have thought it.
You always have a Neptune beat on your albums...from 'Hot In Herre' to 'Flap Your Wings' how do they manage to stay unique and fresh?
They ain't scared…plain and simple...Pharrell and Hugo are handling theirs...always have, and always will...They're unbelievable. Their talent is just crazy. And they're not afraid to try new things. They usually have two or three ideas when I get in the studio...they'll play 'em for me and we settle out the likes and dislikes.
You've made really introspective songs before. On Country Grammar you had 'Utha Side' and 'Luven Me.' On Nellyville, you dealt with the peaks and valleys of newfound glory on 'Splurge.' But this time around it seems like you took it to a deeper level with songs like 'N Dey Say' and 'Die For You.'
'N Dey Say' is actually three experiences that I had. Not too long ago I ran into a girl that I had went to school with and she was telling me everything that was going down with her. Her husband had gotten locked up and then she found out that he was cheating on her. I took that to heart because I could see she was a strong sister and she wasn't letting it get her down. She said she had to carry on and she knew what she had to do. 'Die For You' was probably the easiest song I ever did. That was nothing but just telling the truth. I tell the truth in everything I do, but with that one right there, I didn't really give a damn if it rhymed or not. It was just like, I'm gonna tell it how it is.
What can you say about your growth from this Nellyville to now. From Country Grammar to Nellyville, it was you going from worrying about the lights and the gas to "I don't have to worry about the light and the gas." What's the major change now?
I think I was able to open up a little more and let people know that there are other sides of Nelly. He enjoys doing what he does, but he's also trying to find his way. I was able to do the 'Die For You' songs. A lot of people didn't know that I have children. So, I was able to let people know that I do go through experiences in life other than just club action and buying cars and all that. That's just what I like to do and that's the music that I like to make, but that don't make me. But I didn't get out of my zone. I won't to stop doing what the fans have come to appreciate from me.
We also have Nelly the businessman. You've been making some serious power moves lately.
You have to. You want to be able to explore other options. I idolize P-Diddy, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, Master P and people who have been able to have success outside of music. It shows people that you're not just a dumb-ass rapper with a doo-rag on, because there are still a lot of people out there who think that's all rappers are. A lot of people think that, and we don't help them out a lot when we first get in the game. We don't do much to change their minds. And that's because you're taking kids that a lot of times come from nothing. All of a sudden you give them something and you expect them to know how to operate and manage it and make it last and make it functional. That's just not the case. You're taking a kid who just yesterday was hanging out on the block, chillin' with his homies and all of a sudden he's a businessman and he's an entrepreneur. You have people who go to school for 15 and 12 years just to learn how to do that. So it's culture shock. Boom! Here's this money, now know how to manage it and know what to do with it to make more. We all want to be able to go outside of music and make something happen so we can stop rapping. Then we can do albums at our leisure, because we're feeling the music, not because we have to do it to make money. That's where I'm trying to get to in my career.
Nelly tells Chingy to calm down and pay him more respect
A few weeks back, Chingy said he was offended by comments Nelly made on his Sweat song "Another One," and now Nelly has some advice for Chingy: Don't be hurt, just take the lyrics as a word to the wise and show some respect.
"I wasn't going at him. If you listen to the song, it says, 'I like the way you do that right thurr.' I could have said, 'F--- the way you do that right thurr!' It ain't even like that," Nelly said on Friday in Los Angeles (see "Mixtape Monday: Chingy Gets Mad At Nelly, Diddy Gets Mad At Haters"). "I'm not trying to be in it with duke like that. I just feel I paid so much respect to other people that allowed me to come do what I do, I just feel people should pay the same respect [to me] when they do what they do. Don't act like your getting on didn't have nothing to do with everything [myself and the St. Lunatics] have been able to accomplish. I took you on tour with me before."
Funnily enough, Nelly said, in spite of their back and forth, Chingy recently contacted him about hitting the road together. It doesn't look too likely.
"To hear some of the things he's saying, like that he's been doing this just as long as me and I just got my break first and all this and all that," Nelly lamented, referring to Chingy's remarks in the December issue of XXL, "I'm like, 'Listen, it ain't even this type of issue. Don't say things like that.' He don't even realize how his words can get blown outta context. There's people who want to see us get into it.
"You've got to watch what you're saying, unless you mean what you're saying, then that's cool too," he added. "But don't do all that and then turn around and say you wanna go on tour with me. Don't do all that. Don't go that route. Be serious with whatever you're doing. I don't know where it is with him."
As for who Nelly actually will take on tour with him, that's still up in the air. The St. Lunatics are a lock, but besides them he's waiting to see. There have been talks with plenty of his peers, Lil Jon and T.I. among them, but nothing is definite. Nelly doesn't even know what type of venues he'll be hitting up. The big question is, does he go with his heart or with his wallet?
"I like the smaller venues for some reason," he said. "The 3,000-, 2,500-seaters where the people are right there and the music sounds louder and it feels like mutha----as is right there on top of you. Those are the ones I like better than the big joints. I know there's a lot of sponsors out there saying, 'No, no, no!' And probably a lot of the people around me, 'cause the money ain't as big, but it ain't even about that for me."
Life on the road, or at least heading out on the road, is the plot for Nelly's new video with Tim McGraw, "Over and Over." Recently wrapped, Nelly's part was shot in St. Louis, while McGraw filmed his scenes in Nashville. Each of the performers goes through his own personal hell while waiting for his love to holla back.
"I finished that joint up, we split-screened it with him on one side and me on the other side," Nelly explained. "He's in his element, I'm in my element. We're showing how everything still happens the same. It's a regular day, us waking up, we're waiting on a phone call we never seem to get. From the start of the day from when we wake up, we both gotta take these flights. We wanna squash this thing before we get on the flight. We never get the calls we was looking for and before you know it, pimp, we're gone."
Despite his work with McGraw, Nelly said his favorite country record of all time is "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers. Fittingly, one of the biggest gambles of Nelly's career — putting out two albums, Sweat and Suit, on the same day — is continuing to pay off with sales and now a Grammy nomination (see "Kanye Scores 10 Grammy Nominations; Usher And Alicia Keys Land Eight").
"I didn't know, but I figured that Suit probably would be [the bigger seller] because it would probably be an album that appealed to fans that listened to more than rap and hip-hop," the master of country grammar said. And as he predicted, that is indeed the case.
Nelly's sure been catering to Ashanti
Will Nelly and Ashanti just give it up and admit they're an item?
Ashanti recently scoffed at talk of romance between her and the rapper - it's "just people making up their own sitcom," the R&B chanteuse told Vibe.
But it's the two of them who keep generating new episodes.
Lately, Ashanti has been shooting "Coach Carter," her feature-film debut. You'd think that Nelly also had a part in it, judging by the amount of time he's spent on the set.
"Nelly would bring her organic vegetarian meals all the time because she didn't like the commissary food," a spy tells us. Her co-star Samuel L. Jackson confirmed in an interview, "Let's just say I ate more craft service because Nelly wasn't bringing food to me every day."
Sources on the set also say the pair talked endlessly by phone when Nelly was taping Tim McGraw's recent TV special and when he was working with Christina Aguilera on the video for "Tilt Ya Head Back."
So why all the sneakin' around? Some say it's because Ashanti has also been juggling Irv Gotti, who signed her to his label, The Inc. (formerly Murder Inc.). "Irv knows about Nelly," says one source. "But Ashanti doesn't want to hurt Irv's feelings." For now, her rep insists, "She's friends with Nelly. She has a professional working relationship with Irv Gotti. That's it."
Rap songs by Nelly have racy lyrics
Bus drivers in the Hamilton Schools will be allowed to listen to only one of three radio stations while transporting students.
The change was made Tuesday after parent Thomas Patrick complained about racy lyrics his kindergarten-age son heard on the bus and then repeated at home. The lyrics came from a rap song by Nelly that was played on the top 40 rock station WKFS-FM (107), said Larry Lane, interim transportation director.
"There was no intention to play anything offensive by the driver," Lane said Wednesday. "High school kids had asked the driver to tune to the station earlier in the morning. She wasn't paying attention to what was being played - and the speakers are in the middle of the bus, so she couldn't hear it well."
As a result, Lane said, he has directed all drivers to play only one of three stations: soft-rock WRRM-FM (98.5); oldies station WMOJ-FM, (94.9), or WVMX-FM (94.1), which is currently playing holiday music.
Hamilton transports about 4,000 students to public and private schools. There are 41 routes, Lane said. The driver, Sandy Withrow, received a warning not to play that radio station again, Lane said. "A parent had a concern. We felt it was a valid concern, and we handled it," said Joni Copas, district spokeswoman.
Nelly's videos have racy images of women
Rapper Nelly has blasted authorities at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, after they scrapped a vital bone marrow drive he was scheduled to hold there.
The Hot In Here hitmaker was due to appear at the charity function back in April and was upset when officials at the African-American all-girls college protested his racy images of women in his videos and decided to cancel the event.
Nelly, whose sister is in need of a bone marrow donor, was appalled that his rap star image was a consideration for a fundraiser he felt was very important.
Speaking to urban magazine Sister 2 Sister, he fumes: "I'm trying to do something that will impact on my life for the rest of my life, and you're doing something that you might not even be thinking about years from now.
"Some girl down there (at Spelman)… she's just so, 'Well, we wanted to hold Nelly accountable for what he's doing,' and all this. Hold me accountable? Sweetheart, you knew we was coming to Spelman three months prior, four months prior."
The rapper has asked magazine editor Jamie Foster Brown to track down the student union official who sparked the protest and interview her about her reasons for her actions.
BBC bans Nelly's single ''Tip Drill'' as too rude
According to published reports, British broadcaster BBC has put a ban on Nelly's latest single, "Tip Drill" - citing that the video is too rude and will cause a storm of complaints. The rapper is angry with the decision stating that films can get away with it, why can't he. "Halle Berry can go on film and get the dog sh-- kicked out of her, and she wins an Oscar." ...
The video sparked protests in the United States, with various groups protesting the portrayal of women in the video. “It was strictly adult entertainment; it wasn’t to try to demoralize women,” Nelly recently told AllHipHop.com. “Entertainers get a bad rap. It’s easier to blame us for you not raising your kids and being involved in your kid’s life.”
Nelly is top hip-hop doppelganger
In a perfect world, iced-out thug Nelly and boho griot Mos Def would cameo on each other's records. But black men profit just as much as everyone else from imagining themselves in compartmentalized solar systems, so St. Louis–born Nelly and Brooklyn-born Mos remain hip-hop doppelgängers. Though cut from different cloth, they're both iconoclasts, pushing hip-hop culture to its limits by refusing its tyranny of stylistic insularity.
Nelly first branded his Afro-Midwest jive on 2000's "Country Grammar" and "E.I.," puff 'n' grind tunes that reminded us hip-hop had roots in Shirley Ellis nonsensicality before "The Message" made urban reality a priority. "Dilemma," a sensitive 2002 duet with Kelly Rowland, suggested Nelly had been harboring a beta male underneath that rippled musculature. He now faced a real dilemma: how to maintain his crunk fan base without forsaking newfound Ruffneck Romeo devotees. Riffing and ripping off OutKast, Universal has released Nelly's third and fourth studio albums simultaneously: the uptempo PG-13 of Sweat and slow jams and "refined" themes of Suit.
The albums' chiaroscuric packaging, marked by a.m.-p.m. poses, projects a double consciousness onto Nelly's flashy image that makes the project appear more sophisticated than it is. Anchored by predigested melodic hooks, Nelly's songs seem composed with the sole intention of ending up as your next ringtone. Some offerings, like the underproduced "Spida Man," crumble due to that simplistic approach. Others, like "Flap Your Wings"—which coasts on the Neptunes' climbing chromatic-scale motif and conga-fied rhythm track—are addictive.
Less pitch-challenged than pop-thug shower singer Ja Rule, Nelly's developed a unique brand of recitative that draws as much from Bone Thugs' singsong cadence as it does from military roll calls and frat hollas. On Sweat's '70s funkfest "Tilt Ya Head Back," Nelly outvocalizes showboater Christina Aguilera, and he does good next to velvety Jaheim on Suit's wistful "My Place."
A&R director Kevin Law has invited most of his Rolodex on board for guest appearances—everyone from Aguilera to Mobb Deep to Ron Isley to Stephen Marley—but the end product rarely seems genetically engineered. So what if these records were cooked up in a marketing meeting? Nelly is reaffirming black music's diversity at a time when the grab-bag, relativist playlists of Clear Channel and iTunes are becoming the norm. Anyone crazy enough to sample John Tesh's NBA theme ("Heart of a Champion") and kick rhymes with country dude Tim McGraw ("Over and Over") is keepin' it surreal, celebrating inauthenticity while adding new hues to thug palettes everywhere.
Nelly will perform at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards
R&B/hip-hop superstars Usher and Nelly and punk trio Green Day comprise the first acts set to perform at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards. As previously reported, the event will be held Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and broadcast live on Fox.
Among the artists confirmed to appear during the event are Alicia Keys, Duran Duran, Motley Crue, Ashlee Simpson, Fantasia, Nick Lachey and Chingy. Stevie Wonder will receive Billboard's Century Award, the magazine's highest honor for creative achievement.
Finalists, additional performers and presenters and the show's host will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Billboard Music Awards honor the No. 1 artists and songs as determined by record sales and radio airplay. Winners are determined by the 2004 year-end charts, which will reflect the weekly Billboard charts published from December 2003 through November 2004.
Nelly's double CD shows that he has grown as a musical artist
St. Louis hip-hop icon Nelly has bucked the trend of releasing a "double CD" and has gone the more unconventional route of actually releasing two separate discs at the same time. Named "Sweat" and "Suit," Nelly changes up his trademark sing-song, hip-hop style with the latter, adding some new sounds and different beats than we're used to hearing from the King of Midwest hip hop. The first two tracks, "Play It Off," featuring Pharrell Williams and "Pretty Toes," featuring Jazzie Pha and T.I., have that bouncy/swinging feel that we've come to expect from Nelly. The rapper moves into many different genres on the remainder of "Suit." "My Place," featuring Jaheim, has more of an R&B feel, "Paradise" has a distinct Latin sound and "She Don't Know My Name," featuring Snoop Dogg and Ron Isley, has more of a soul vibe.
The musical diversity continues on "Suit" with a duet courtesy of country music superstar Tim McGraw called "Over and Over" and track with a Caribbean sound called "In My Life" with Avery Storm and Mase. The overall theme of the CD is very personal. Nelly lets you into his life with songs about his love life, his son and a song called "Nobody Knows" featuring Anthony Hamilton, where he gives you a four-minute life story. "Suit" shows how Nelly has grown as a musical artist --- he's no longer just a rapper.
Nelly and McGraw's ''Over and Over'' jumps to No.1
Three-time Grammy Award-winning superstar Nelly continues to break records with his new hit song "Over And Over" featuring country chart-topper Tim McGraw.
Last week, "Over And Over" jumped from No 7 to No 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 Chart, and according to the Billboard Monitor, the trade magazine that monitors radio airplay, the leap is "the largest position jump to No 1 and also ties with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey for quickest ascent to No 1." This is remarkable because the song climbs to the top of the charts within four weeks of its radio release date. "Over And Over" is Nelly's fourth No 1 record which gives him the most by a male artist in the Top 40 format and ties him for most No 1's overall with Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Alanis Morissette. According to the Monitor, Tim McGraw has become the first country artist to hold the No 1 position at the Mainstream Top 40 format. After releasing two new albums Sweat and Suit in September, Nelly became the first solo artist ever to have two new albums debut in the No 1 and No 2 positions simultaneously on the nation's pop albums chart. "Over And Over" is the second single from the double platinum-certified Suit album, following-up the smash hit, "My Place."
Plans are underway for Nelly and McGraw to film the video for the smash hit song. Universal Records is also promoting the more street-oriented cut, "Na-NaNa-Na" featuring Jazze Pha from the platinum-plus Sweat CD.
Both albums continue to dominate the charts and have cumulatively sold five million units worldwide. The New York Times praises "Over And Over" as "best and most surprising of all..." and goes on to credit Nelly for his multi-genre collaborations asserting that, "If OutKast had brought together Tim McGraw, Spandau Ballet, Christina Aguilera and Lil' Flip, they'd be called geniuses..." Commenting on the song and why he chose to work with McGraw, Nelly says, "I used to run into him at award shows and I played with him at different celebrity basketball games - and the guy can hoop! We just clicked and we kept saying that we should do something together... and the opportunity arose. I appreciate all kinds of music besides hip-hop."
Nelly is appearing on many tv shows in November
It's a Nelly November -- at least on television. The St. Louis rapper is scheduled for a series of appearances this month on the tube.
, November 8, Nelly performs on The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, and tomorrow, November 9, the "My Place" singer stops by ABC's The View. Nelly will also perform on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live this Friday, November 12.
For more Nelly in November, tune in to the American Music Awards on Sunday, November 14, on ABC. Nelly will be performing live on the awards show. Two nights later, November 16, catch Nelly on the Vibe Awards show on UPN.
And finally, don't miss Nelly in Nashville when he guests on country music star Tim McGraw's NBC special on November 24.
Nelly's latest albums, "Sweat" and "Suit," are in stores now.
Since being released two months ago, Nelly's two latest CD's have contributed to a hefty boost in revenues for the ailing Vivendi/Universal media conglomerate.
After slumping in the first two quarters of 2004, Vivendi exceeded expectations with 4% growth and revenues of $6.5 billion in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Universal Music Group registered its first increase since 2001 courtesy of Nelly's Suit and Sweat releases.
The two records respectively debuted at #1 and #2 on Billboard's 200 eight weeks ago. Since then, Suit has remained high on the charts and has already reached double platinum while Sweat has struggled, but still scored another platinum plaque. However, the recent growth isn't expected to carry into more sales increase for Universal Music or the music industry.
"We believe the out performance was mainly due to global market share gains,'' Bear Stearns analysts wrote in a Tuesday report to clients. "Given the weaker industry music sales performance since September, we do not expect this trend to be maintained."
Vivendi suffered from a 20% total sales decline from the 5.9 billion registered a year ago. The hit caused the sale of 80% of Vivendi's U.S Entertainment assets earlier this year.
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