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What Happened to Nelly?

Before we get into “What Happened to Nelly” let’s take a look at how it all got started.


Nelly, or Cornell Haynes Jr., was born in Austin, Texas on November 2nd, 1974, but after his parents divorced, he moved from St. Louis to Universal City, Missouri. As a teenager Nelly and his friends created a group called St. Lunatics and they were quite popular locally for their single “Gimme What Ya Got” in 1997. After the group figured out they really had no chance at stardom, they agreed to let Nelly go solo and shoot his shot at getting a record deal. In 1999, Nelly got signed to Universal Music Group. Many rappers at the time either came from the east coast or west coast, so the label marketed Nelly as the star of the midwest. His debut single “Country Grammar (Hot Shit), peaked at number seven on the Billboard 100. Once the label saw his potential they allowed him to start working on his debut album. After, Nelly got signed, his old group the St. Lunatics reunited and also received a record deal from the same label. He did a solo record first, then returned back to his group the next year.


In 2000, his debut album Country Grammar was released and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Nelly performed at the Superbowl Halftime show and his album went 9x platinum.

In 2002, his second album Nellyville, was number one on the Billboard 200 Music Albums chart. Hit singles “Hot in Herre” “Air Force Ones” and “Dilemma” were successful on the charts and the album went 6x platinum in 2003. He won a Grammy for “Hot in Herre” for the Best Male Rap Solo Performance as well. He also appeared on the Haunted Mansion and Bad Boys II movie soundtrack. In 2004, he won another grammy award for “Shake Ya Tailfeather”, which was in the Bad Boys II movie soundtrack.

Going into 2004, Nelly made his second appearance performing in the Superbowl Halftime show. Later on in the year he released two more albums, Sweat and Suit. They both came in high at number one and two on the Billboard charts, while Sweat being a rap album and Suit being more R&B oriented. On Suit Nelly came aligned with his country background and did a duet with country music singer Tim McGraw. In 2005, came Sweatsuit, and it was a mix of both albums, plus three new singles added in. The top hit single “Grillz” became popular all over the world and the album sold over five million copies in the U.S.

In 2008, Brass Knuckles was released. “Party People” “Stepped on My J’z” and “Body on Me” were successful singles and featured other popular artists at the time.

In 2010, Nelly’s next album 5.0, was released late in the year. The album featured artists such as T-pain, Chris Brown, Akon, Plies, T.I Birdman, and a few more. Hit single “Just A Dream” hit the charts on the Billboard 100 and was Nelly’s highest-charting single since “Grillz” from 2005.

This is when Nelly’s stardom began to decline. In 2011, he released some mixtapes and featured on some tracks, but nothing too big came from it. He went into acting and appeared in The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep in 2012. He dabbled again in country music to “Cruise” the remix, with Florida Georgia Line. His mixtape M.O was released in 2013 by Republic Records, but not too much success from the album only selling 23,000 copies.

From 2014-2015, Nelly had his own reality TV show called Nellyville, but once again not too much successful from this either. The show gave fans a sneak peek inside the life of Nelly, but it only lasted for two seasons. Nelly released another single, but this time through his own label called Records, but in 2018 he decided to sign to Columbia Records.

Just to touch base on Nelly’s acting career, he made his debut in 2001 in an independent film called Snipes. He actually made his real big movie role debut in 2005 in the remake of The Longest Yard, which starred Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. He also had two songs as part of the movie soundtrack. He also appeared on CSI:NY in 2008 and 2009, and 90210 in 2011. And from 2013-2016 he was in the Real Husbands of Hollywood for five seasons.

Nelly was also one of the few rappers to sign a shoe deal, create an energy drink that sold one million cans in its first two months, own a clothing brand, and also owned a NBA team for a short time. Oh and you can’t forget his long term relationship with singer Ashanti, that he labeled as a “Friendship.” Nelly has also played in the 2007 World Series of Poker and released a fitness DVD called Celebrity Sweat in 2010. Nelly is quite the businessman and has ventured into many different ventures, but has also had some legal trouble to go along with it. He’s been arrested for drug possession, accused of rape, and owes the IRS $2.4 million in unpaid taxes. The Twitter world found about Nelly’s debt situation and then came the hashtag #SaveNelly. People streamed “Hot in Herre” 24/7 so he could get the money to pay off the IRS, and everyone wanted to help Nelly surprisingly.

If you're wondering where Nelly is now, he’s actually making his debut appearance this year on Dancing with the Stars. Maybe people will remember who he is once he’s back on the TV screen.From all the bad the Nelly has been accused of lately, he’s also done good, with giving kids scholarships and forming a foundation after his sister died from Leukaemia.

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