"I don't sound like anyone... I've got a style that's all my own. I'm rappin' the blues. I like to think of my music as a jazz form of hip-hop. I don't really even know what I'm going to sound like until I hear the beat." Nelly
Hip Hop musician Nelly, who first caught notice while performing with his rap group St. Lunatics, received applause for his debut solo album, the Grammy-nominated, 7 times platinum "Country Grammar" (2000), which spawned the Grammy-nominated single "Ride Wit Me." His sophomore album, 5 times platinum "Nellyville" (2002), handed him two Grammy Awards for his smash hit singles, "Hot In Herre" and "Dilemma."
The rapper, who made history in 2004 after releasing double LPs "Sweat" and "Suit," recently appeared on the wide screen in Peter Segal's comedy The Longest Yard (starring Adam Sandler).
5' 10" tall Nelly, whose trade mark is wearing a Band-Aid on either cheek, was hailed as one of People Magazine's "Breakthrough Stars of 2001" and "Best New Artist" at the 1st Annual BET Awards in 2001. The platinum selling rapper, who has three tattoos on his body, was also listed as one of Teen People's "25 Hottest Stars Under 25" (2001 and 2002) and on Entertainment Weekly's "101 Most Powerful" List (2002).
As for his private life, Nelly was rumored to have had a secret romance with R&B singer Ashanti (born October 13, 1980).
4 Sho 4 Kids
Childhood and Family:
"St. Louis is real. It's the rawest of the raw. It's small so everybody knows each other. I've got a love/hate relationship with it." Nelly
Cornell Haynes Jr. would later be famous as Nelly. He was born on November 2, 1974, in Austin, Texas, but followed his Air Force father.
Cornall Haynes Sr., to live in Spain. Three years later, the family relocated to America and settled in the small town of Muddy Mississippi, which Nelly calls St. Louis.
Due to family financial problems, Nelly's parents divorced when he was 7 years old. With older sister Jacqueline "Jackie" Donahue (died on March 22, 2005 of leukemia), Nelly was raised in the ominous community until his mother took him to the suburb of University City in 1993. In this new place, he began an interest in storytelling, writing rhymes, playing baseball and considered a professional baseball career.
"What I am trying to do with 4Sho4Kids and children nationwide, is to encourage them to use their minds and provide them with a positive environment." Nelly
Behind the stage, Nelly, who wears clothes bearing the logos of St. Louis' sports teams, is the father of two children, daughter Chanel (born 1994) and son Cornell III "Tre" (born 1999). He also has established several charity foundations including Jes Us 4 Jackie (helps patients who need bone marrow transplants, a tribute to his sister who died of leukemia) and 4 Sho 4 Kids Foundation (helps kids born with developmental disabilities and addicted to drugs). More recent, he reportedly sold off jewelry to raise funds for leukemia patients.
Sweat and Suit
"Rappers like Biggie and Tupac brought something different to the music. They attracted people to it." Nelly
Originally dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player, Nelly switched his attention to rap music after listening to such rappers as Rakim, LL Cool J, Run DMC, Outkast, Goodie Mob and Jay-Z. While studying in high school, he befriended Ali, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, City Spud and Jason, and together they established a rap group named St. Lunatics in 1993. The group came out in 1996 with a self-produced single, "Gimmie What You Got," which became a local hit.
"I don't necessarily feel like a solo artist... I'm just the key in the door for the rest of the St. Lunatics. I'm the first to release an album, but we're all family. We came up together from nothing. So it's St. Lunatics for life." Nelly
With encouragement from St. Lunatics, Nelly went solo and landed a contract with Universal Records. Under the recording company, Nelly launched his solo debut album, "Country Grammar," in 2000, featuring St. Lunatics, the Teamsters, Lil' Wayne, and Cedric the Entertainer.
"Country Grammar" topped the US charts for seven weeks and spawned the hit single "Ride Wit Me" (2001). The single was named Best Rap Video of 2001 at the MTV Video Music Awards and earned a 2002 Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance.
Other singles included "(Hot Shit) Country Grammar" (2000), which poled No. 7 on both the US and UK charts, and the No. 3 US hit "Where the Party at?" (2001), which netted a 2002 Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The album received 7 platinum certifications after selling 8 million copies. Nelly also performed with Aerosmith and 'Nsync singing "Walk This Way" at the Super Bowl XXXV Halftime Show in 2001 and reunited with his group St. Lunatics for their debut album "Free City," featuring the hit single "Midwest Swing."
Nelly second effort arrived in 2002 entitled "Nellyville." The album peaked the Billboard 200 chart for three weeks and reached No. 2 on the UK charts. Within a month, "Nellyville" received triple platinum and eventually made 5 platinum certifications after selling 5 million copies. The single "Hot in Herre" stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks and went to No. 4 on the UK charts. The second single "Dilemma" immediately followed and stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 weeks, making it the longest hip hop song ever to stay on the Billboard Hot 100. Both songs gave Nelly two Grammy awards, one for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Dilemma") and one for Best Male Rap Solo Performance ("Hot In Herre"). He also performed on the Saturday Night Live show on November 16, 2002.
"Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention," was Nelly's next album, which was released in 2003. It received average success and only poled at No. 12 on the Billboard albums chart. However it produced the No. 1 US chart single "Shake Ya Tailfeather," a collaboration with P. Diddy and Murphy Lee.
The albums "Sweat" and "Suit" were released simultaneously on September 14, 2004. "Sweat" debuted at No. 2 while "Suit" went to No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart. A double A-side with Flap Your Wings in the UK, the slow jam single "My Place" (2004) reached No. 4 in the US but hit the UK charts at No. 1. Meanwhile, the single "Over and Over" (2004, featured country music star Tim McGraw) from the "Suit" album reached No. 3 on the US charts and topped the UK charts after being released in 2005 in the UK. Nelly also sang the song with McGraw on the latter's CBS Television concert special in 2004.
Moreover, he performed it again on the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime show and on the Saturday Night Live show on October 2, 2004.
Nelly has branched out to acting. His debut film work was playing Sam Jones III's favorite rapper Prolifik in Rich Murray's drama Snipes. Recently, he teamed with Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds in the remake of the 1974 football comedy The Longest Yard (2004). In the film, written by Albert S. Ruddy and Tracy Keenan Wynn (1974 screenplay), Nelly portrayed the team's running back, prisoner Earl Megget. He also sang "Shake Ya Tailfeather" for Bad Boys II (2003), "Stick Out Ya Wrist" for xXx (2002), "#1" for Training Day (2001) and "Icey" for Bait (2000) soundtracks.
Nelly has launched a clothing company for women named Apple Bottom and has his own clothing line called Vokal. Co-owner of the NBA's expansion Charlotte Bobcats, Nelly and his company Team Lunatics launched the newest business venture, an energy drink named after his hit song Pimp Juice in 2003.
"I like to give props - I've never been a hata. If I see something that's hot, I'm 'a say it, because I want my just due. I was like, 'Holla at me about the remix.' They turned, like, 'Word?' I was like, 'Word.' We exchanged numbers, and it went down like that." Nelly
- Source Hip-Hop Music: Artist of the Year, Male, 2003
- Grammy Awards: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Dilemma, Dilemma, 2003
- Grammy Awards: Best Male Rap Solo Performance, Hot In Herre, 2003
- ASCAP Film and Television Music: Most Performed Song from a Motion Picture, Training Day, 2003, For Number 1
- Billboard Music: Artist of the Year, 2002
- Billboard Music: Male Artist of the Year, 2002
- Billboard Music: Male Hot 100 Artist of the Year, 2002
- Billboard Music: Male R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, 2002
- Billboard Music: Rap Artist of the Year, 2002
- Billboard Music: Rap Track of the Year, Hot in Herre, 2002
- American Music: Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, 2002
- Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite New Male Artist, 2001