In Search Of…Nelly

By the turn of the millennium hip hop's influence had been seen and heard from nearly every part of the country, but Y2K introduced us to the St. Lunatic sound of St. Louis native Nelly and his Midwest swing. The debut single "Country Grammar" and album of the same name added an additional party element to hip hop and went on to sell 9 million albums. His next album Nellyville sold another 6 million records and it was obvious that Nelly was a superstar. But, there was one problem…he couldn't rap! Nelly was a nursery school rhymer in every sense of the word and quickly became a pop star and the antithesis of the true M.C.
The beginning of the end came when he was booed at Hot97's Summer Jam in 2003 at the height of his fame, partly because New York wasn't feeling his pop music and mostly because his set was standing in the way of the white hot 50 Cent. As hip hop has gone deeper into the Dirty South, the "derrty" M.C. has slowly faded away with sales of his last two albums significantly falling off, with his last album Brass Knuckles failing to sell a million copies.

The funny thing is, most of the Southern rappers have taken his style, added a street appeal to it and are enjoying fractions of the success he enjoyed the first half of the millennium. So, if he gets the right beat and comes up with another catchy hook, he may have another hit in him. Although I'm rooting against him, I started booing the moment he was introduced that evening in Giants Stadium, I hope he's saved some cash from those 20 million records he's sold over the course of his career. I think back to his contributions to hip hop culture, bad rhymes, that damn band-aid, the jerseys and the “Tip Drill” video---wait, remove “Tip Drill” from that list.  Truth be told, I'd rather hear Nelly, than Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, Plies and Yo Gotti. Actually, I quit hip hop last week after VH1's Hip Hop Honors!

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