Nelly is one of the most famous rappers in the music scene today thanks to his hits like “Hot in Herre” and “Just a Dream”, not to mention his seven albums and numerous awards and nominations. His talents also extend to acting and business with a couple of onscreen appearances and product brands.
Before we take a look on the latest regarding Nelly, let’s first take a trip down memory lane and see how he rose to fame and success.
Nelly’s Early Life and St. Lunatics
Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. was born on November 02, 1974. He was originally from Austin, Texas, but had to relocate to University City, Missouri with his mother after the divorce of his parents, and after living with different relatives throughout St. Louis. In his teenage years Nelly worked at odd jobs for some extra dough while his athletic side relished in playing sports. His skills in baseball and football were commendable, and Nelly even attended training camps for renowned teams.
Nelly’s interest in rap sparked during his stay in St. Louis. Later on he met a handful of friends who shared the same love for hip-hop, and together they formed the group St. Lunatics. Their debut single “Gimme What You Got” was released in 1997 and managed to gather some degree of popularity especially for Nelly. Unfortunately a record deal proved to be elusive which made them agree that a solo act was the best choice for the moment.
The aspiring rapper worked tirelessly in making demos and sending them to record labels. Universal Records signed him aboard in 1999 and the rest of St. Lunatics followed suit. Nelly’s debut album Country Grammar was released a year later and was met with positive reviews and commercial performance. Nelly rejoined his friends in 2001 for the release of the first St. Lunatics album titled Free City which was also a hit. Nelly no longer pursued his athletic ambitions as he realized that his future lay in music.
Nelly the Rapper
Nelly released his second album Nellyville in 2002 and it contained the irresistible summer anthem “Hot in Herre”. Aside from the impressive commercial performance and critical praise, the album also earned Nelly six awards during the Billboard Music Awards of that year. In 2004 he released two albums at the same time namely Sweat and Suit. The former contains hip hop tracks while the latter’s songs are laced with R&B, and both albums were praised not only for their content but also for their contrasting themes.
Four years later his fifth album Brass Knuckles hit the shelves but critical opinion towards it was mixed. Some still praised Nelly’s vocals and the lyrics of some tracks, but other critics felt that the album was uninspired and featured nothing new from the artist’s usual fare.
Nelly announced that he was working on a new album as early as 2009, and that he was determined to make a comeback after the mediocre performance of his previous work. 5.0 was released in 2010 and it had one of Nelly’s most successful singles (“Just a Dream”) and also one of the most disappointing ones (“Move That Body”), the latter due to the inclusion of auto-tune and lackluster production. The album did chart well on Billboard but it didn’t manage to gather much critical praise unlike Nelly’s earlier releases.
For his latest album Nelly again made an early announcement about its recording and its list of guest appearances. It was titled M.O. and released in 2013, but unfortunately it didn’t prove to be strong enough to earn enough critical favor. It also suffered from abysmal sales and earned Nelly his first-ever weakest sales on the week of release.
2015 saw Nelly release a single titled “The Fix”, followed by a guest appearance in the Simple Plan song “I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed”.
As for the St. Lunatics, Nelly is still a member of the group and they have released two singles from their upcoming second album City Free. However the announcement for their sophomore offering was made last 2010 and so far there’s still no word regarding the true release of their second album.
Nelly the Actor, Businessman, and Player
Nelly keeps himself busy with other activities when he’s not rapping. He is an occasional actor and his film debut was in Snipes (2001). He’s also appeared in several episodes of CSI: NY and served as one of the mentors in the short-lived talent show The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep (2012). In 2014 Nelly starred with his family in the reality series Nellyville which ran for two seasons but there’s still no word if there will be a third. Nelly also ventured into the realm of workout DVD’s with Celebrity Sweat in collaboration with other chiseled personalities in music and sports.
The rapper expanded his business empire to clothing. In 1997 he teamed up with his cousin Yomi Martin in the creation of fashion brand Vokal. During Nelly’s St. Lunatic Days, the brand printed shirts that featured the group which were sold all around St. Louis and during concerts. Vokal quickly gained popularity after the release of Nelly’s debut album. In 2003 the cousins formed female denim brand Apple Bottoms, and later on it included accessories and perfume to its products.
During the same year Nelly introduced his own brand of energy drink called Pimp Juice, manufactured by Fillmore Street Brewery which the rapper co-owned. The drink proved to be a success with a million cans sold within three months after its release, and the controversy its name attracted didn’t even hamper its sales. Pimp Juice expanded worldwide and spawned two more drinks namely PJ Purple Label and PJ Tight.
Nelly is well-known for being a poker player. He bagged the top prize during the 2007 Celebrity Poker Tournament in Las Vegas, and he was one of the contestants in the 2008 series Black Poker Stars Invitational. In 2013 he joined the Seminole Hard Rock Poker tournament. He’s also joined many charity tournaments for the benefit of different non-profit organizations.
What’s Nelly Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
Let’s see what Nelly is up to this year.
Country Grammar was certified diamond last July 25 for selling more than ten million copies since its release. Nelly was awarded with a plaque to commemorate this historic moment in his career. Only seven hip hop albums have achieved this feat and now Nelly is the eighth.
In February Nelly released a cover version of the country song “Die a Happy Man”. It ranked at number 83 on the Hot 100 chart of Billboard and managed to sell 35,000 copies during the first week. Four months later he lent his vocals for the song “Millionaire” by Digital Farm Animals and Cash Cash, However there is still no news about an upcoming album from Nelly.
Nelly is active in the onstage scene. He performed at the Bluestem Center in Moorhead, Minnesota last October 06, followed by appearances at Mankato, Minnesota, Sioux City, Iowa, and Dallas, Texas, on October 07, 11, and 15 respectively. He will be performing at the Downtown Chowdown in Sacramento’s Capitol Mall on October 29, and in the Las Vegas night club Drai’s Beach Club on November 05.
Last September the rapper was reported to have problems with his tax bill. Fans were urged to play his songs in Spotify to support the rapper as each stream pays Nelly straight into his bank account although it is only around $0.006 to $0.0084. There is also an ongoing Twitter campaign with the hashtag #SaveNelly. It could take more than a hundred million streams of his songs before Nelly could somehow get out of his financial woes, but the staggering number doesn’t seem to deter his determined fans.
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Stay updated with Nelly by following his Facebook (/Nelly), Instagram (@derrtymo), and Twitter (@Nelly_Mo) accounts.