The BIG Q&A: Nelly Talks Copycats, Being Rap's Most Influential, Nearly Quitting Music And Marriage

Nelly’s name may not always come up in rap G.O.A.T. chats, but the St. Louis native certainly deserves his place in the Hip-Hop history books. With a career that spans more than 10 years and 35 million records sold, Nelly can no longer be brushed off as a fluke. From Band Aids to Air Force One’s, the 35-year-old father of two has set more trends in hip-hop than often credited for. From his Apple Bottoms office in Manhattan, VIBE checked in with Cornell “Nelly” Haynes Jr. to get an update on just how far his Country Grammar has taken him. —Mikey Fresh



VIBE: 5.0 will mark your sixth album and 10 years in the game. Do you finally consider your self a hip-hop veteran?

Nelly: Well, I kind of consider myself a young veteran. A vet doesn’t necessarily mean in age but the extent of your knowledge of what it is that you’re into. That’s what makes you a real veteran.

Do you still feel like there’s more for you to prove in your music?

I wouldn’t say prove because I don’t know what’s really left… at least statistic wise, there isn’t much left for me to do. I don’t think people expect anything of me creatively, but just number-wise. That’s where my trouble lies. People don’t see my music but they see my numbers as to whether Nelly has succeeded or not. Like Nas, his next album might not sell the biggest of his career but they may rank it as his best album. But for me, if I don’t put up those numbers, they’re not even going to listen to my records.

I think that’s related to the fact that you sold 10 million coming out of the gate…

It’s a double-edged sword—you don’t want to knock yourself for having success. And you never want to make people think that you’re unappreciative of your success. That’s why I try to let people know I feel fortunate to have sold over 35 million records. Who does that and is still around to add to that number? No one!

There seems to be a lot of folks already counting you out…

I think the best thing for me is to be the underdog. When Country Grammar came out, nobody expected me to do it. But after I did sell all those records people expected me to sell me sell 10 million every time. Some people even look at Nellyville as a failure compared and Sweat Suit which sold 6 million. Who are you comparing me to? I’m outselling everybody. It’s kind of rough when you’re compared to yourself all the time. [laughs]


Did you ever think about switching your style up after catching flack for incorporating singing and melodies in your rhymes?

I didn’t give a rat’s ass. I was from St. Louis, and I was getting a shot, a major record deal… I had two kids, my moms, pops, Grandparents needed help. With my first album I was thinking if I make it, I can relieve the pressure from my whole family making ends meat—so I’m doing it. To make something when you had nothing, I wasn’t going to trip off it.

So it didn’t bother you that you weren’t being labeled as a “real MC”?

I didn’t understand what “he isn’t a real MC” meant. Should I not try to succeed and sell millions of albums? I thought 'doing you' and people accepting it validated what you were doing as 'real'. We did everything coming up from the battles, talent contests, and quote or unquote mixtape songs. I mean, I could get what people are saying about the music in a certain sense. But I’ve always kept it real with myself.

You really helped popularize the sing-song flow starting in 2000… I mean you could even say you fathered the style of a lot of rappers who came after you…

Listen, it's right there in front of you. If you retrace history and look at how rap music was before I got there and after—it’s clear. To me and the people around me, it was always evident.

But you never get the credit for it.

Look at “Ride With Me.” I rapped my own verses, sung own my own hook and sung my own bridge. That was one of the first rap records to have a bridge! Nobody was putting bridges on rap songs before that. I saw my blueprint being kind of dubbed over and some people don’t say it. Now every rapper now is trying to sing their own hooks. Nobody wanted to sing when I was coming out. Now everybody’s singing, I don’t know give a shit who it is. Everyone’s doing Nelly, but it’s cool and it’s a good thing. -p

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French Authorities Reportedly Investigating Rape Claim Against Chris Brown

French authorities are reportedly investigating Chris Brown after a woman allegedly accused the R&B singer of rape. According to the French tabloid, Closer, a 24-year-old woman claims that Brown raped her in his hotel room.

The unidentified woman alleges that she met Brown at a Parisian night club in rue de Ponthieu, near the Champs-Elysées, on the night of Jan. 15 into Jan. 16, before heading back to his room at the La Mandarin Oriental. The woman also accused Brown’s bodyguard of abuse, Closer reports.

Brown was recently spotted taking in the festivities of Paris Fashion Week, and smooching rumored flame, Ammika Harris. The “Undecided” singer shared video from dance rehearsal in the French city over the weekend. He has not commented on the reported rape allegation.

Brown is currently embroiled in a separate civil lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Brown's friend, Lowell Grissom, during a party at the Grammy winner's home last year. Brown requested that the lawsuit be dismissed.

“For the last 10 years anybody who comes at him should know they're going to meet the full force of my firm,” the Virginia native's lawyer, Mark Geragos, warned in an interview last year.

The woman has since filed court documents on Jan. 7, asking a judge to block Brown’s request that she give up phone and text records citing privacy concerns. According to The Blast, the woman asserts that she already turned over hundreds of documents, including text messages, emails and medical records.


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Spotify Testing Feature That Allows Users To Mute Certain Artists

Spotify users will be able to mute certain artists, for their listening pleasure. The streaming company introduced a “don’t play this artist feature” as apart of a new IOS app update, according to Thurrott, which got its hands on an early version of the feature.

The block button allows listeners to banish specific artists from their personal music libraries, and stops them from popping up in automatically curated playlists, and other pages on the music streaming app. In order to utilize the mute feature, users clicks on the menu above an artists’s page and selects the “don’t play” option. The feature doesn’t work for songs that the artist may be featured on, the Verge reports.

The update could be a middle ground for Spotify as it faces increased pressure in wake of the #MuteRKelly movement, and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly  documentary. A petition calling for Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube to remove R. Kelly’s music from its services is close to garnering 150,000 signatures.

Last year, Spotify briefly removed Kelly, XXXTentacion and T-Kay (a Texas rapper convicted of murder) from featured playlists due to the company's hateful conduct policy. “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions -- what we choose to program -- to reflect our values,” the company explained in statement to Billboard last May. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator."

Spotify abandoned the plan after pushback from fans of the artists singled out, and industry heavyweights like Top Dawg Entertainment founder Anthony Tiffith, whose label imprint is home to Kendrick Lamar, SZA, ScHoolBoy Q and more.

Tiffith reached out to Troy Carter, Spotify’s global head of creator services, and threatened to remove his artists’ music from the streaming service. “I don't think it's right for artists to be censored, especially in our culture,” Tiffith told Billboard. “How did they just pick those [artists] out? How come they didn't pick out any others from any other genres or any other different cultures? There [are] so many other artists that have different things going on, and they could've picked anybody. But it seems to me that they're constantly picking on hip-hop culture."

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The Internet Reacts To Carmelo Anthony Being Traded To The Chicago Bulls

According to a tweet sent out by ESPN's Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash considerations to the Chicago Bulls. However, he will likely not play any games.

"Anthony won't play a game for the Bulls, league source tells ESPN. He will be released and become a free agent if he clears waivers," tweeted Wojnarowski. " is possible that franchise holds off on waiving him until the trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Bulls could include him in a one-for-one trade, but can't aggregate his contract in another deal."

Since today is a national holiday (Jan. 21), the official word will reportedly be held off until tomorrow. Wojnarowski reports that his "best bet" would be to wait it out until the trade deadline (Feb. 7) to find another opportunity with another team.

The Houston Rockets have agreed to trade Carmelo Anthony and cash to the Chicago Bulls, league sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

The NBA office will not execute the trade today because it's a holiday, league sources tell ESPN. To clear the way for Kenneth Faried to sign and play tonight in Philadelphia, Rockets had to waive to James Nunnally. Trade call on 'Melo will likely be Tuesday.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

Anthony won't play a game for the Bulls, league source tells ESPN. He will be released and become a free agent if he clears waivers.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

Social media caught wind of the news, and reacted with shock and of course with laughs via some hot takes.

"Melo is revolutionizing the 'farewell season' by signing a contract with each NBA team before he retires, truly ahead of his time," one tweet read, while another said "Melo is being held hostage by teams. Hopefully this means Liam Neeson will have a movie saving him come out around the trade deadline."

Check out some tweets below.

Melo is being held hostage by teams. Hopefully this means Liam Neeson will have a movie saving him come out around the trade deadline.

— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) January 21, 2019


— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) January 21, 2019

[email protected] fans looking at GM Lebron when Melo becomes free agent.

— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) January 21, 2019

Carmelo Anthony will not play a game for the Bulls, but it is possible that franchise holds off on waiving him until the trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Bulls could include him in a one-for-one trade, but can't aggregate his contract in another deal.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

For Anthony, his best bet is waiting until the Feb. 7 trade deadline to find his next team. He can wait for roster spots to open, trades to happen, etc, that'll create the best opportunity for him. Anthony wants to find a place to contribute.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 21, 2019

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