With the same-day dual release of Sweat, Suit (2004) and the compilation Sweatsuit (2006), Nelly continued to generate many chart-topping hits. Sweat debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 342,000 copies in its first week. On the same week of release, Suit debuted at number one, selling around 396,000 copies in its first week on the same chart. Nelly's fifth studio album, Brass Knuckles, was released on September 16, 2008, after several delays. It produced the singles "Party People" (featuring Fergie), "Stepped on My J'z" (featuring Jermaine Dupri and Ciara) and "Body on Me" (featuring Akon and Ashanti). In 2010, Nelly released the album 5.0. The lead single, "Just a Dream", was certified triple platinum in the United States. It also included the singles "Move That Body" (featuring T-Pain and Akon) and "Gone" (a sequel to the 2002 single "Dilemma" in collaboration with Kelly Rowland).
Nelly won Grammy Awards in 2003 and 2004 and had a supporting role in the 2005 remake film The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. He has two clothing lines, Vokal and Apple Bottoms. 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 21 million albums sold in the United States. On December 11, 2009, Billboard ranked Nelly the number three Top Artist of the Decade.
Nelly was born in Austin, Texas, where his father was serving in the military. When he was seven, his parents divorced. Nelly moved with his mother from St. Louis to University City, Missouri as a teenager. While still in high school, Nelly formed the St. Lunatics, a hip hop group who enjoyed local popularity with their single "Gimme What Ya Got". Nelly decided to go solo, after a major record deal failed to appear. He was signed to Universal Music Group by A&R Kevin Law. Law told HitQuarters that very few people at the record company liked Nelly when he was first signed, with the feedback he received from his colleagues on the rapper's music being "extraordinarily negative". Nelly was unusual for being a rapper from the Midwest at a time when the hip-hop scenes were centered around the East Coast, West Coast and the South. The label used this to their advantage by branding Nelly as a star of the Midwest, hoping to inspire pride in the people of St Louis and the surrounding region. Nelly was signed with St. Lunatics. Kevin Law and Country from Fo'Reel Entertainment decided to do a solo record with Nelly first and then return to St. Lunatics the following year.
2000–03: Breakthrough with Country Grammar and Nellyville
The label released his debut album Country Grammar in 2000. The success of its title track as a single (#7 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 Hot Rap Tracks) led to the album debuting at number three in the Billboard 200 in the U.S. Other singles from the album included "E.I."; "Ride wit Me", featuring his brother City Spud; and "Batter Up", featuring the St. Lunatics. The album was certified 9× platinum by the RIAA on April 27, 2004.
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. A feud with another St. Louis-based rapper, Chingy, came up near the end of the year.Tsunami Aid: A Concert for Hope, a 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake benefit concert special produced by NBC, featured Nelly. 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.
In the summer of 2009, Nelly made a public announcement in Las Vegas about the yet-to-be-titled album. In October 2009, Nelly did an interview with SOHH.com and said that the album was going to be released sometime in 2010. In an interview with Semtex TV, Nelly told reporters that he planned to release the album under the name Nelly. In April 2010, Nelly's cousin Michael Johnson was murdered in Missouri, Nelly said that he delayed releasing the album because of this. Guests featured on the album were, T-Pain, Chris Brown, Akon, Plies, T.I., Kelly Rowland, Birdman, DJ Khaled, Avery Storm and Diddy-Dirty Money. In May 2010, Nelly confirmed that the title of the album was 5.0. The album was released on November 16, 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". The two songs were released to Mainstream and Rhythm/Crossover radio on August 10, 2010. "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 BillboardDigital 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 BillboardRap 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. Nelly is featured on the second single by singer Mohombi entitled "Miss Me", produced by RedOne. On November 13, 2010, Nelly appeared on the Pacquiao vs. Margarito pay-per-view, at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. "Gone" is the sequel to Nelly's 2002 worldwide number-one single "Dilemma", also with Rowland, and serves as third single from Nelly's album.
2011–2014: M.O. and The Next: Fame Is at Your Doorstep
On December 24, 2011, Nelly released his first ever official solo mixtape, entitled O.E.MO, which stands for "On Everything MO". The mixtape features guest appearances from T.I., 2 Chainz, Bei Maejor, St. Lunatics and more.
On July 4, 2012, via his Twitter, Nelly announced his seventh studio album would be titled M.O.. He also revealed that American singer Chris Brown is featured on a song titled "Marry Go Round", taken from M.O..
In February 2013, Nelly released "Hey Porsche", the lead single from his seventh studio album M.O.. The song peaked at number forty-two on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit the top ten in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. In April 2013, a remix of "Cruise", the breakthrough single of country music duo Florida Georgia Line, featuring Nelly, was released. Nelly's next single "Get Like Me" featuring Nicki Minaj and Pharrell was released on iTunes July 2, 2013.
2014–present: TV Series and upcoming eighth studio album
As of 2015, Nelly currently stars in his own TV show Nellyville, which began airing November 2014 and finished airing its second season. The series airs on BET and is about Nelly's music and acting career and raising his four kids. On August 6, 2015, Nelly premiered a new single titled "The Fix", was released to retailers August 14, 2015 on his label he started called "RECORDS". In an interview with Big Boy on 92.3, Nelly stated there may or may not be a new album following his new music.
Film and television career
Nelly's film debut came in 2001 in the independent film Snipes playing a famous rapper named Prolifik. His big movie role came in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. The movie's soundtrack includes his songs "Errtime" and "Fly Away". In June 2008, in an interview with Kiwibox, Nelly revealed that he is reluctant to continue his acting career, noting that he does not want to "take away from the culture of acting." In 2008 and 2009, Nelly appeared in episodes of the CBS crime drama CSI: NY. In 2011, he made a cameo appearance on 90210. He played Officer Glen Donner in the 2014 thriller film A Fall from Grace. In November 2014, Nelly aired his own TV show titled Nellyville, based off the title of his second studio album, which is about his career and raising his four kids. The show finished airing its second season.
Nelly's rapping style has been described by Peter Shapiro as using "unforgettable hooks based on schoolyard songs, double-dutch chants, and nonsense rhymes" and has a "Missouri twang".AllMusic suggests Nelly's style is based largely on where he comes from - "Nelly's locale certainly informs his rapping style, which is as much country as urban, and his dialect as well, which is as much Southern drawl as Midwestern twang". Nelly explains his method of writing in the book How to Rap, describing how he freestyles most of the lyrics before going back over them to "make it a little tighter", he generally writes in the studio rather than at home, he normally comes up with a chorus for a song before writing the verses, and he likes to write to the music he will be rapping over.AllMusic also notes his "tongue-twisting" hooks, which are also often sung rather than rapped.
Nike and Nelly agreed on a one-year deal in 2003 to release a limited-edition sneaker called the "Air Derrty", which was a retro remake of Charles Barkley's signature sneaker. Nelly later signed a shoe deal with Reebok. Nelly has done ads for Got Milk and the Ford Motor Company. His energy drink Pimp Juice sold one million cans during the first two months after its introduction in August 2003, and was criticized for its name by black consumer activists. Nelly owns Apple Bottoms, a female clothing line, and Vokal, which caters to men. He was one of the owners of the Charlotte Bobcats, along with Robert L. Johnson and Michael Jordan until Jordan became the new owner in March 2010.
Nelly has played the Main Event at the 2007 World Series of Poker. He has also played The PokerStars European Poker Tour and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. In August 2010, Nelly started a temporary stint as the afternoon host on WHHL HOT 104.1 in St. Louis. He is taking the place of regular PM drive personality, Stacy Static, who is on pregnancy leave.
According to STLtoday, the initial ratings for the show are very high. This gig garnered national attention in the Huffington Post and other websites. On September 28, 2010, Nelly released a fitness DVD entitled Celebrity Sweat, walking viewers through various exercises and weight training techniques.
In 2011, Nelly and Vatterott College worked together to found the Ex'treme Institute By Nelly, which is a music production school in the heart of St. Louis.
On May 8, 2015, Nelly teamed up with Mike and Ike candy after a halt in collaborating a year earlier. He and the owners of Mike and Ike released a movie trailer the same day titled "The Return of Mike and Ike" describing the split and reunion.
Nelly runs the non-profit organization 4Sho4Kids Foundation. The Jes Us 4 Jackie campaign began in March 2003 by Nelly and his sister Jackie Donahue after Donahue was diagnosed with leukemia. The campaign attempts to educate African Americans and other minorities about the need for bone marrow transplants, and to register more donors. Donahue lost her battle with leukemia on March 24, 2005, almost two years after the campaign began. 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.
On Friday April 10, 2015, Nelly's tour bus was interrupted by a traffic stop because of non-conforming U.S. Department of Transportation and International Fuel Tax Association stickers and subsequently searched by Tennessee state troopers which netted methamphetamine, marijuana, over 100 ziplock bags and numerous handguns, including a gold-plated 50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol. Nelly was officially booked into the Putnam County Jail, was charged with felony possession of drugs, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He made bond on Saturday April 11, 2015 and was released on bail.