Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. (born November 2, 1974), better known as Nelly, is a rapper from St. Louis, Missouri. His success was unusual for a rapper in the 2000s since he did not come from either the west coast, east coast or southern hip hop scenes. His style of hip-hop is known for having a mellow delivery, his accent and catchy hooks which are more often sung than rapped.
He began his music career as a member of a hip-hop group called St. Lunatics. While they enjoyed some local success in the late 90s, the group were unable to get a major label to sign them. He thus decided to leave the group and pursued a solo career. His debut album Country Grammar was released in 2000. The album was a huge success, producing three top 20 singles (two of which made the top 10) and the album itself received a diamond RIAA certificate (the ninth hip-hop album to do so) and is currently the fourth-best selling hip-hop album of all time. His next three albums also proved to be mutli-platinum selling successes, and he had a number of popular singles as well.
- Country Grammar (2000)
- Nellyville (2002)
- Sweat and Suit (2004) - Originally released separately though on the same release date but later released together as Sweatsuit
- Brass Knuckles (2008)
- 5.0 (2010)
- M.O. (2013)
- Heartland (2021)
Tropes associated with Nelly:
- All Just a Dream: "Just A Dream", of course.
- Auto-Tune: The remix of Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise", which Nelly is featured on, uses this for the singing parts.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: He has had a number of guest spots on non-rap songs like the remix of *NSYNC's "Girlfriend", "Call on Me" by Janet Jackson and the remix of "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line.
- Car Song: "Hey Porsche" is a love song that uses a number of car metaphors. A vintage Porsche 356A convertible is even featured in its music video.
- Country Rap: Country music's been a big influence on Nelly since his early days, so it's no surprise he'd veer into this territory:
- He provided a rap verse to the remix of "Cruise", a country song and Tim McGraw was featured on "Over and Over".
- His 2021 album Heartland.
- Distinct Double Album: Nelly's Sweat and Suit albums were released at the same time and later released together. The former consists of Hip-Hop party songs while the latter consists of Hip-Hop influenced R&B.
- Greatest Hits Album: The Best of Nelly though it was only released in Japan.
- Homage: The music video for "Ride wit Me" is based on Smokey and the Bandit.
- In Da Club: The official music video for "Hot in Herre" takes place in a dance club.
- "Just Joking" Justification: "Hot in Herre" has this bit:Stop pacin', time wastin'
I got a friend with a pole in the basement
(Female voice: "What?")
I'm just kiddin' like Jason
(Female voice: "Oh.")
Unless you gon' do it
- Melodic Rap: Owing in part to his country influences, a lot of his songs featured him infusing melodies into his rap flow, and sometimes outright singing his own hooks. "Hot in Herre", "Body On Me", and "Ride Wit Me" are just a few of his best known examples.
- Misogyny Song: "Tip Drill" is a particularly infamous example due to its controversial accompanied music video. It memorably included, amongst other things, Nelly taking a credit card and swiping it between the buttocks of a woman wearing a thong.
- Older Than They Look: Nelly can easily pass for a man in his early-to-mid 20s despite being in his mid-to-late 40s, as of now. He looked exactly the same for the past 20 years.
- Product Placement: Subverted in the case of "Air Force Ones". The song is about a brand of Nike shoes, but he wasn't paid by them to make the song (though the music video was still banned on MTV due to their anti-product placement policies). He did, however, get his own line of Nike shoes after the song became a hit.
- Sequel Song: "Gone" is considered a sequel to "Dilemma", and both feature Kelly Rowland. It was even originally titled "Dilemma p.2" but Nelly changed the name out of fear that it would not meet people's expectations.
- Shout-Out: The end of the first verse of "Hot In Herre" quotes Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers' "Bustin' Loose.""Cuz I feel like bustin' loose / I feel like touchin' you"
- Silly Love Songs: Hey Porsche which is a love song using car metaphors.