Cornell “Nelly” Haynes Jr. was born on November 2, 1974, in Austin, Texas. Early in life, his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother from St. Louis to University City. When he was younger, he has had a variety of interests ranging from baseball to rap. He formed his first group St. Lunatics, with fellow high school classmates. Although they had one self-produced single, Gimme What You Got, they never became successful. As a result, the group made the mutual decision that Nelly should go solo. Soon afterward, Nelly signed to Universal. His 2000 solo debut, Country Grammar, was a huge success, and the following four albums all had singles that went to number one on Billboard Charts. After enjoying immediate success, he went back to the Studio with St. Lunatics and recorded an album that went platinum. Besides his singing career, he also does charity work with his non-profit 4Sho4Kids, raising money for children’s health issues. He also had a brief cameo alongside Adam Sandler in the longest yard. These are ten of Nelly’s best songs.
There isn’t a deep meaning to this song. It’s simply about a style choice many rappers make. Throughout the song, Nelly makes many different pop culture references. According to songfacts, tippin on some 4’s was a nod to Mike Jones’ 2005 song Still Tippin. Additionally, he sneaks in lyrics about former president Bill Clinton and a popular Houston drink made from cough syrup.
9. Stepped on My J’z
One of the things Nelly loves is Nike Air Jordans. This song plays off from a scene in the Spike Lee movie, Do the Right Thing. Ciara and Jermaine Dupri provide background vocals.
8. Ride Wit Me
This song details the over-the-top lifestyle many rappers enjoy. Some fans theorize that this song was about Nelly’s rise to fame from teenage drug dealer to rap star. Deion Sanders was the first to coin the phrase “must be the money,” which is a hook in this song.
7. Over & Over
Tim McGraw teamed up with Nelly on this slower ballad. Most critics enjoyed the collaboration and praised the raw emotion of the song. The video featured both stars, showing them on split-screen on tour and missing people they love. The video encapsulates the song’s feeling; much of the singer’s thoughts are still home with people they love.
6. Country Grammar
The inspiration for this song was Nelly’s move to a rough neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. This move helped him with underground success with the St. Louis group The Lunatics. In 1999, Country Grammar was his first solo hit. The playground song Roller Coaster provided the original melody. However, getting it on the radio meant that a few expletives needed to be eliminated. This song gave the artist immediate recognition.
5. Hot in Herre
The extra R in the song is something people from St. Louis do to emphasize a word. Pharell Williams was the co-producers with Chad Hugo. The inspiration for this song’s beat was the 1978 Go-Go song Bustin Loose from Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers. Like many of his other songs, this one was about living life to its fullest.
4. Hey Porsche
Nelly is a Prince Fan, so when his producers played the song, he thought about Little Red Corvette, making him want to record the song. However, many critics believed that the pop influence was a misstep for the artist. However, producer DJ Frank E had done a similar track for Flo Rida earlier in the year; Whistle. Other critics thought that the song showed Nelly’s growth as an artist.
3. Party People
Initially, this song was slated for Fergie’s post Black Eyed Peas solo album. However, Polow Da Don played it for Nelly, and he immediately wanted to record it. However, Fergie proves some of the vocals. Before Nelly recorded the song, he added many of his elements which took the music away from its original sound and instead became a top club hit. According to djbooth, the song was another of Nelly’s club songs. They added that the single was part of a dynamic collection of songs on his album Brass Knuckles, which featured many famous rappers, including Snoop Dogg and Nelly’s first band, St. Lunatics.
2. Body on Me
Nelly struggled to get Akon to do vocals on this track despite Akon being the writer. Many of the lyrics are about his relationship with singer Ashanti, who recorded a different version on her album. Nelly wasn’t Akon’s first choice for the song. He wrote it for Lil’ Fizz. However, he passed and handed the piece to Ashanti and Nelly to finish. However, the collaboration wasn’t without drama. According to that grape juice, the two were a couple in the video and rumored to be in real life. Nelly refused to confirm whether or not that was true. Later in the interview, Ashanti said,”‘ I’m kinda like focusing on my career, he’s focusing on what he’s doing, you know there’s a lot of things that happened this year, you know a lot of things kinda went public more than other things have gone public before” Regardless the song was a great career move for both of them.
1. Just A Dream
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, on July 30, 2010, Nelly was part of a Chuck Berry concert at Kiener Plaza. During this concert, he debuted Just a Dream to a crowd that included representatives from the Democratic National Convention. It was a fundraiser for the city’s bid to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Although this song was one of Nelly’s biggest hits, he almost didn’t record it. When he first heard JimJonsin play, it didn’t resonate with him. Although after a few more lines in the song, Nelly changed his mind, and the rest is history.