Diamond Selling, Multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning rap superstar, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and actor, Nelly, has continually raised the bar for the entertainment industry since stepping on the scene in 2000 with his distinctive vocals and larger-than-life personality. His collaboration with Florida Georgia Line received Diamond status and he is only one of seven rappers to reach this honor. He is touring around the globe and recently was the first artist to play in Saudi Arabia with a mixed-gender/family crowd. He is the first hip hop artist to play with multiple symphonies nationwide and played himself in BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood with Kevin Hart. His sports knowledge and love of all sports secured him a gig as a sportscaster with Skip Bayless. 2019 is going to be a huge year for the hip hop mogul, currently, Nelly is in the studio preparing for new music to be released in addition to several business ventures to be announced in the first quarter.
Nelly embarked on his music career with Midwest hip hop group St. Lunatics, in 1993 and signed to Universal Records in 1999. Nelly entered the spotlight with the release of Country Grammar in 2000, spending seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawning the massive hits “Ride Wit Me”, “Country Grammar”, and “E.I.”. The album landed Nelly four Grammy Award nominations and sold over nine million copies worldwide. Country Grammar is Nelly’s best- selling album to date, selling over 8.4 million copies in the United States.
Nelly kept the momentum going with the 2002 release of Nellyville. The album debuted at #1 on top of scoring Nelly his first two Grammy Awards for “Hot in Here” – Best Male Rap Solo Performance – and “Dilemma” [feat. Kelly Rowland] – Best Rap Song Collaboration. This album was highly successful and was certified 6x multi-platinum by the RIAA on June 27, 2003. He has since gone on to win multiple American Music Awards, a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award, Soul Train Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and was crowned “Top Pop, Rap, and R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of The Year” by Billboard. He has been referred to by Peter Shapiro as “one of the biggest stars of the new millennium”, and the RIAA ranks Nelly as the fourth best-selling rap artist in American music history, with over 21 million albums sold in the United States. On December 11, 2009, Billboard ranked Nelly the number three Top Artist of the Decade.
On September 14, 2004, Nelly released two albums, Sweat and Suit. Suit, an R&B-oriented album, debuted at number one on the Billboard albums chart, and Sweat, a rap-oriented album, debuted at number two. From Suit, the slow ballad “Over and Over”, an unlikely duet with country music star Tim McGraw, became a crossover hit. On the 2004 NBC television concert, special Tim McGraw: Here and Now, McGraw and Nelly performed the song. In the winter of 2005 came Sweatsuit, a compilation of tracks from Sweat and Suit with three new tracks. “Grillz,” produced by Jermaine Dupri, was a number-one hit. To date, both albums have sold over 5 million units in the United States.
Brass Knuckles was released on September 16, 2008, with “Party People,” featuring Fergie and produced by Polow da Don, being the first single released. “Stepped on My J’z” was the next single, produced by Jermaine Dupri and featuring Dupri and Ciara; following that was “Body on Me”, produced by Akon and featuring Akon and Ashanti. Following up Brass Knuckles was 5.0 released in November 2010. The album’s lead single “Just a Dream” was released on August 17, 2010, through iTunes along with the promotional single “Tippin’ In da Club.” Just a Dream” made its first chart appearance debuting on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 12 and peaking at number 3 in its fourth week. The song also debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Digital Songs chart, selling 888,000 downloads in its first week.”Just a Dream” is Nelly’s highest-charting song since his 2005 single “Grillz” and debuted at number 7 on the Billboard Rap Songs. The song entered the Canadian Hot 100 in August 2010, at number 32. It debuted in Australia (ARIA Charts) on the Singles Chart at number 3, in New Zealand Singles Charts at number 29, and in Switzerland (Media Control AG) at number 52. The second single “Move That Body”, which features T-Pain and Akon, was released on October 12, 2010. The song made its first chart appearance debuting on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 54 and has reached a current peak at number 29 in Australia. In 2013, the St. Louis native released his seventh full-length album, M.O. [Republic Records] featuring guest appearances by Nicki Minaj, Pharrell, Future, T.I., and 2 Chainz as well as production powerhouses Rico Love (Beyonce, Usher) and Detail (Lil Wayne, T- Pain).
Nelly’s Country Grammar album and his song “Cruise” with Florida Georgia Line both achieved Diamond status in 2016. In 2016, Nelly was featured in a unique opportunity to perform alongside the country’s most prestigious orchestras including St. Louis, Columbus and Pittsburgh garnering great reviews. Nelly has performed on NBC’s The Voice, The American Music Awards, ABC’s Greatest Hits and served as a judge on CW’s The Next. Just some of his include: “Hot in Here” – “Dilemma” [feat. Kelly Rowland] “Country Grammar” “Ride Wit Me” “Just a Dream”– “Cruise” reached diamond status, “The Fix” sampling Marvin Gaye, and summer sixteens dance anthem “Millionaire” with Cash Cash and Digital Animal Farm.
The music mogul has also left his mark in other aspects of the industry, introducing his women’s clothing line, Apple Bottoms, men’s clothing line, Vokal, and Pimp Juice energy drink. His energy drink Pimp Juice, named after his hit song “Pimp Juice,” sold one million cans during the first two months after its introduction in August 2003. Pimp Juice was one of the first celebrity-driven energy drinks on the market, and an example of hip hop and pop stars using their appeal to younger audiences to market and sell non-music related products. Apple Bottoms, a fashion brand for women, launched in 2003 by Nelly,
Yomi Martin and Ian Kelly. The brand was initially a denim label, but then expanded to include other women’s and girl’s clothing, perfume and accessories. Apple Bottoms has also been referred to in numerous rap songs and was the sixth most popular denim brand in 2006. Additionally, he has collaborated with Nike on the “Air Derrty” limited edition sneaker, he is also the CEO of his label, Derrty Ent. and co-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats with Michael Jordan.
In 2005, Nelly made his big-screen debut in the Adam Sandler and Chris Rock hit remake, The Longest Yard. The movie’s soundtrack includes his songs “Errtime” and “Fly Away”. Nelly took on a recurring role on the hit show CSI: NY in 2009 and 2011, he made a cameo appearance on 90210. In 2013 Nelly continued his on-camera career by signing on to Kevin Hart’s top-rated show Real Husbands of Hollywood. The show follows the daily lives of him and other married celebrities, each playing a fictionalized version of themselves, as they venture through their surreal life in Hollywood. After five seasons, he has won two NAACP awards and has been nominated six times. In 2014 Nelly acquired his reality show entitled Nellyville, based on the title of his second studio album, which is about his career and raising his four kids. Nelly also added sports commentators to his list of accomplishments in 2016 with Fox Sports which makes him one of few actors with three television shows airing at one time. Nelly joined the panel on the FS1 show Skip and Shannon: Undisputed, an American sports talk show starring commentators Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe with host Joy Taylor. Nelly made headlines on the show when he sided with the New England Patriots’ players that refuse to visit the White House due to Trump and his policies.
Nelly also has strong philanthropic ties. In 2003, he and his late sister Jackie Donahue launched the Jes Us 4 Jackie Foundation. Upon Jackie’s diagnosis with leukemia, they aimed to educate and spread awareness about the need for bone marrow and stem cell transplant donations as well as attract more donors. His greatest philanthropic achievement is that he hosted the largest African American bone marrow drive to date. Sadly, Donahue passed away in 2005, but Nelly continues to use his influence to raise awareness. In 2010, Nelly endorsed Do Something’s Tackle Hunger campaign. In a public service announcement, he filmed for the cause, Nelly challenged teens to fight hunger by collecting one million pounds of food for the holiday season. Currently, he supports Make a Wish and is the only rapper/music artist to own their own college, EI University, which provides education surrounding the music industry while Nelly himself provides scholarships. In 2011, Nelly and Vatterott College worked together to found the Extreme Institute by Nelly, which is a music production school in the heart of St. Louis.
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