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On Tour: Nelly Speaks On Music Styles, Mike Brown and the Charleston Tragedy

On Saturday, June 20th, St. Louis superstar Nelly opened up the 47-city Main Event tour stop at Long Island, New York’s Nassau Coliseum, featuring R&B icons TLC and headlined by 80s super boy band New Kids On The Block. Deck out in an all white sleeveless hoodie, white sweats and Jordan 11 “Legend Blue” kicks, Nelly ripped through some of his mega hits like “Dilemma”, “Dreaming”, “Hot In Herre”, and the one that started it all “Country Grammar”. While the crowd of middle aged mostly NKOTB fans anxiously waited for the quintet, they were transformed into the biggest St. Lunatics when their favorite Nelly tracks rocked the venue. Screaming, “E.I.E.I.Uh-Ohhhhh! What’s Poppin’ Tonight!?!” at the top of their lungs, hopping out their seats and doing God knows what kinds of times had by all.

Getting a few minutes with the BET Nellyville show creator/star backstage after his energetic performance, VIBE asked Nelly his thoughts on the current state of music, touring with other huge acts and his feelings on Mike Brown and Charleston’s recent tragedy.

You are fresh off stage, how was it out there?

It was great. A lot of energy. Surprising. It’s been dope, well received everywhere.

Some of the older white ladies were spitting the lyrics right when you put the mic to them!

They rocking man. You know what I think though? If you look at the line up, you may look at it a certain way. But if you trip off the line up, really, it makes sense, cus you are talking about possibly the biggest act of the late 80s/90s with New Kids. You talking about the biggest act of the 90s with TLC. Then you talking about the 2000s with myself. So basically if there are any TLC fans [here], they are probably Nelly fans. If there are any New Kids fans, 9 times out of 10 they like TLC. It blends right in. It’s been cool.

"I’m a hip-hop artist that wants to be one of the biggest artists period...Versatility is the key."

"It's gettin' hot in take off ALL YOUR CLOTHES!" @Nelly_Mo #TheMainEvent #Nelly 🔥🔥😃

A video posted by DJ Sandra Dee 🎵 (@djsandradee) on

People can come to this tour and hear you go through mad hits and you still didn’t get to do all of them. Which ones are some of your favorites to get the reaction of the people?

Oh shoot. That varies, it’s very, very regional. You got obvious songs that no matter “Ride Wit Me”, “Hot In Herre” always go. “E.I.”, that’s the song that was a single, but wasn’t the biggest for Nelly but somehow is the biggest single when he performs it.

SEE ALSO: Country Grammar For Real: Nelly Is Reportedly Recording A Country EP

It’s that hook man. Another thing is you can have a Neptunes produced hit, then you can do “Just A Dream”, and then go with the Florida Georgia Line. What’s it like to cross styles like that?

I love a challenge. I just love a challenge. It may not be in the orthodox manner of what hip-hop truly is, but I can’t change...I am hip-hop. I can’t change that. But, I’m a hip-hop artist that wants to be one of the biggest artists period. If you want to be one of the biggest artists period, then you can’t be in just one lane of music. It’ll never work like that. If Michael Jackson kept singing R&B and didn’t do other things he wouldn’t be Michael Jackson. If Prince just did Rock & Roll and didn’t do R&B sometimes it just wouldn’t be. Versatility is the key and every artist that I’ve seen become who they are there was a versatile stake. Like Mariah Carey is very versatile. Whitney Houston was very versatile. Dr. Dre is very versatile. Snoop Dogg is very versatile. Jay Z’s a rapper, but such a versatile rapper.

But they used to get at you, some who wanted your level of success, for rapping and singing…

Change is always scary. It don’t matter what it is. That’s how it’s received sometimes. Change has to be received by some negativity or else it’s not change. The only way you can change it is if some people like it that way. That’s why it’s changed. It’s always going to be met with some type of resistance. Evolution is inevitable. It’s got to happen.

"You are heartbroken for the families. But your eyes are opened like, 'Ok, now what? What we finna do?'"

What we are seeing now is someone like a Fetty Wap, who is able to sing what he calls “Ignorant R&B” cause of his trap themes...then you with the “Country Grammar” hook talking about the strap and street biz but still singing. [Y’all] are able to win with melodies talking like that on hip-hop records, how?

It ain’t about melodies on hip-hop records. It’s melodies period. It’s what music is yall. We still forgetting that hip-hop is part of music. Once you are apart of music it’s melody [laughs]. That’s just it, it’s that simple. People look at it like, “Nah, that ain’t true.” But I’m telling you, melody is gonna always win!

People sing to you when you are a baby. Or they do what? Melodies when you are a baby. Cus even though you don’t understand the words, you pick up on the melody. [Hums “Hush Little Baby”] It works because it’s the mind and’s inevitable dog. You gonna walk to a beat. Who walks not to a beat? It may not be your beat but if you time his shit, it’s consistent! Everything is done to a beat, bruh. People try to breakdown that structure. It’s best to embrace the part of it that you do like, what part of it effects your life and then go for it. Quit trying to tell these kids they wrong, cus couldn’t nobody tell us we were wrong.

When did you finally feel like you were in pocket with who you were as an artist? First coming out, I’m sure you were trying new things, but then you got into a groove.

Well, it was harder for me because of where I was from. Where I was from had no identity. If I’m from New York or the West Coast I could be different but at the end of the day I still got an identity. I’d still have a base to try that has been proven to work. Like if I was from New York and I came out doing melodic, then ok, boom, I could go straight spittin’. Then do another melodic again. I know I still got another shot, because that’s what we do. Same thing with the West Coast. You can go a certain way, if not, you can go traditional West Coast feel. We didn’t have no feel.

Y’all just had the south feel…then you put a face to the…

Now, if you go down to the south they would tell you, “That didn’t sound like nothing from ‘round here.” See what I’m saying? Like, “That sounded like something from over there.” Me, when I think South, I think Pimp C [of UGK]. Say south to me and that’s the first name that come to my mind, cus he was the heart and essence of the south.

He spoke his mind. You could tell in how the way he talked.

And he want[ed] you to underestimate him. Like you got to talk to Pimp. Talking to Pimp was the realest. He want you to think he’s a dumb country son of a gun, cus once you do that, he got you.

SEE ALSO: Nelly Headlines Concert In Iraq To Support Victims Of ISIS

I don’t think people would have thought you to do the numbers that you did, do them consistently and then go into the businesses you did.

That was only cus of the people...the business part is I’ve always been hustling period. But the ones that’s before me set that precedent in business: Russell’s, Puff’s, Jay’s, LL’s. I sit and observe and I ain’t got no problem with learning. Some of these brothers think they know everything. When somebody that’s done already been down that road try to talk to them, they don’t want to hear it. If somebody done been down the road that I’m trying to go...I’m listenin’. Even if I don’t agree with it, at the end of the day I’m still going to let him finish. You got some folks that ain’t even gonna let him finish. Finish telling me first, then I’ll go home and think about it. Then I may decide. You may tell me something I don’t know. Then what happens?

One of the other aspects for you is how you became the go to person and face of celebrity with what was going on in St. Louis and Ferguson over the death of Mike Brown last year. You stood up, spoke and gave the heart of the people because you are from that area. How is it going from that time to now seeing what’s going on in Charleston, SC and these crazy injustices?

Well, Ferguson was difficult in the sense of what I didn’t want to happen was happening. Was people using Mike’s name in vain. At the end of the day, when all that was done, it was still going to be the same. We didn’t address the real essence of the problem. The essence of the problem was, why was he able to walk? It was a reason he was able to walk. Everybody was looking at that. You had the president looking at that, the attorney general looking at that...all on this case. Sure it was jacked up, but from my understanding there was an aka “loophole”. A loophole in the sense of, if you assault a police officer in Missouri he’s allowed to use deadly force. Well, that’s the law. Ok, yall got over on that one. We still gonna have our word, have our say. I don’t have no problem. Now what we gonna do? What we got to do is get that law changed. Cus that’s the loophole they gone keep hiding behind. If they keep hiding behind that loophole, we got to change that. How do we change that? We got to get these people in these communities to get out and vote, to let them know when this shit comes up, we in there. Saying, “Nope, this ain’t gonna work.” We have to get people from our communities in charge of running our communities. But that comes with being involved. We want to be mad, which I understand. That’s why it was hard. We were missing the big picture right there. Some of us were.

Then you know how the media is, there were peaceful protests. They didn’t show none of that on the news. They portrayed our city like the whole city was a war zone, man it was about three blocks. People were scared to come to the city, people asking me like, “Yo…” I’m like, “Nah, that’s way over there.” It was just rough man. I used to live over there, that’s a little different.

Y'all had to deal with that type of stuff…

Man, that ain’t going nowhere. That’s St. Louis man. We been telling people that shit like this, but it took this. Now let’s evolve from it. Let’s use this opportunity to make that change and be more involved. To keep kids in school a little bit longer in our neighborhoods.

"Ferguson was difficult in the sense of what I didn’t want to happen was happening. Was people using Mike’s name in vain."

What was your first emotions when you heard about what happened in Charleston?

Probably like anybody else. Obviously your heart goes out to the people, and you are heartbroken for the families. But your eyes are opened like, “Ok, now what? What we finna do?” We’ve been seeing a lot of these brothers get what yall thought was a legal arrest and brutality and “just force” being used, cus you thought these guys were dangerous...I want to say the right thing here…

Considering [Dylann Roof’s] emotions and where he’s coming from with his anger, from where I’m from that’s not surprising. Now if you live further up this way it may be a little bit surprising to you. If you are in South Carolina, that’s shocking but not surprising. That area has been going through that for hundreds of years.

That particular church has been struck before…

A few times! A church has been on that land for 200 years. 1816, a church has been on that land. Now they done rebuilt it, but that land and that spot, there has always been a black church. People know what they doing. I don’t know, it makes you question if he knew what he was doing or was he sent to do it. More importantly, he killed a Senator. Why we ain’t saying that? Had that been another politician...what are we doing here?? That’s a government official. What’s going on? How you get a million dollar bond for killing a Senator? Now what?

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Breonna Taylor’s Mother Speaks Out After Cops Who Killed Her Daughter Get Off Without Charges

Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, says the system failed her daughter. Palmer posted a painting portrait of Taylor on Instagram on Wednesday (Sept. 23) which she hashtagged, #ThesystemfailedBreonna.

The Instagram post serves as her first public response to a grand jury failing to bring charges against three Louisville police officers for killing Taylor. On Thursday (Sept. 24), Palmer shared a photo of a woman carrying a sign with the Bible verse: “It’s wrong to favor the guilty and keep the innocent from getting justice.”


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It’s still Breonna Taylor for me💙💔💙 #ThesystemfailedBreonna

A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:19am PDT


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A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 4:52pm PDT

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron held a press conference on Wednesday where he announced that no charges would be brought against Louisville officers Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison for killing Taylor. Hankison was the only one among the three to be charged, but not for Taylor’s death.

In an interview with NPR last week, Palmer expressed her hope that charges would be brought against the officers. “I’m hoping to hear that there will be charges,” she said at the time. “That these people will be fired and arrested.” Hakinson is the only one of the three officers to be fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department after Taylor’s death.

Speaking to her daughter’s character, Palmer stated that the 26-year-old emergency room tech was a “beautiful person inside and out.” She pointed out that Taylor “kept saying that 2020 was her year.”

“And she was absolutely right,” said Palmer. “I hate that it came in that form, but it definitely is her year.”

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Kodak Black Wants Donald Trump To Get Him Out Of Prison

Kodak Black is asking Donald Trump to help him get out of prison. Lawyers for the Florida rapper sent a petition to Trump this week, in hopes of getting his sentence commuted.

The 23-year-old recording artists took a plea deal and was sentenced to 46 months in prison on federal weapons possession charges last year. He was originally locked up in Miami but was “erroneously” transferred to Kentucky’s Big Sandy maximum-security federal prison. Kodak’s lawyers argue that he deserves to be housed in lower security facility, TMZ reports.

The petition reportedly suggests that Kodak received a harsher sentence compared to the average sentence (18 months) for the same conviction. Bradford Cohen, one of Kodak’s lawyers, has ties to Trump as a former contestant on the President’s cancelled reality show, The Apprentice.

“This week we filed a commutation of sentence with the President of the United States,” Cohen wrote on Instagram on Thursday (Sept. 24). “The fact that a non-violent paperwork offense by an individual who is not a convicted felon, [received] 46 months and was sent to a max security prison, 1100 miles from his [home] who has been in the bix on 23 hour lock down since September 2019, with no visitation, no programs and no phone privileges is not justice. Where BOP [Bureau of Prisons] made a significant error in his designation paperwork.

“The treatment coupled with the actual crime calls for true justice to intervene and say enough is enough. Individuals similarly situated received significantly less time. We are asking for what is fair.”


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This week we filed a commutation of sentence with the President of the United States. The fact that a non -violent paperwork offense by an individual who is not a convicted felon, recieved 46 months and was sent to a max security prison, 1100 miles from his hom, who has been in the bix on 23 hour lock down since September 2019, with no visitation, no programs and no phone privileges is not justice. Where BOP made a significant error in his designation paperwork. The treatment coupled with the actual crime calls for true justice to intervene and say enough is enough. Individuals similarly situated received significantly less time. We are asking for what is fair. Letters of support or letters from people he has helped in the past can be written or scanned to my office, 1132 SE 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale Fl 33316 or [email protected] #freekodak #justicereform #freeyak #prisonreform #kodakblack #kodak #judicialreform #fairtreatment

A post shared by Bradford Cohen (@lawronin) on Sep 24, 2020 at 5:24am PDT

Kodak’s legal issues have been mounting since he was arrested for allegedly raping an 18-year-old high school student in his South Carolina hotel room in 2016. In 2019, prosecutors charged him with first-degree criminal conduct in connection with the rape case. Earlier this year, Kodak pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal possessions of a firearm after being found with a weapon at the Canadian-American border. He received a 12-month sentence to run concurrently with his federal prison sentence.

The “ZeZe” rapper, who legally changed his name to Bill Kapri and identifies as a Hebrew Israelite, is suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons for alleged torture and abuse. Kodak claims that prison guards jumped him when he first got to Big Sandy, routinely humiliated and assaulted him more than once, and blocked him from visits with a rabbi despite other prisoners receiving time with clergy members. In another alleged incident, Kodak claims that he was forced to wear an open-back hospital gown for more than six hours while being put into a four-point restraint until he urinated and defecated on himself while guards laughed and cracked jokes.

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LeBron James: “The Most Disrespected Person On Earth Is The Black Woman”

LeBron James shared a powerful statement in reaction to the lack of justice in the murder of Breonna Taylor, and promised to do his part to bring about change.

“The most DISRESPECTED person on Earth is THE BLACK WOMAN! I promise you I’ll do my best to change this as much as I can and even more!!! Love to you Queens all over this country and beyond,” James tweeted on Wednesday (Sept. 23) along with a shout out to some of the women in his family.

The most DISRESPECTED person on earth is THE BLACK WOMAN! I promise you I’ll do my best to change this as much as I can and even more!! LOVE to you QUEENS all over this country and beyond! 👸🏽👸🏾👸🏿❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 24, 2020

Grandma Freda, Gloria Marie, Savannah Rachael, Zhuri Ann Marie Nova I LOVE YOU MY BLACK QUEENS more than life itself!! 👸🏾🖤🖤🖤🖤

— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 24, 2020

Mema Brinson, Deidra Norris, Pam Walker, Tanesha Walker, Chanelle Walker, Brenda Weems, Caddie Powers I LOVE YOU Queens!!! 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 24, 2020

As previously reported, a grand jury decided not to charge officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove for killing Taylor during a police raid. Hankinson, a former officer of the Louisville Metro Police Department, faces three counts of wanton endangerment, but the charges were not related to Taylor being killed.

Collin Kaepernick also took to Twitter with a few thoughts: “The white supremacist institution of policing that stole Breonna Taylor’s life from us must be abolished for the safety and well being of our people.”

Read more reactions below.


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I am just at a loss for words.... 💔

A post shared by Kelly Rowland (@kellyrowland) on Sep 23, 2020 at 5:23pm PDT

Dear Breonna,

I’m so sorry the people in power have failed to get this right. You deserve so much more. Your life mattered. You deserved the bright future that was ahead of you. We will continue to say your name. We will continue to fight in your name. #BreonnaTaylor

— DWade (@DwyaneWade) September 24, 2020

They never get it right and that doesn't make it hurt any less. Breonna Taylor should still be with us and her family deserved justice today. Tired of this shit.

— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) September 23, 2020

Bulls--- decision!!! BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! Cannot be said enough times.

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) September 23, 2020

Amen 🙏🏽 shit is sooo sad and discouraging.

— iamcardib (@iamcardib) September 23, 2020

Another innocent black life gone with no consequences!! Breonna Taylor was 26, a daughter, a cousin, a friend, a girlfriend, an ER technician, an AMERICAN. 💔

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 24, 2020

Understand what that truly means because Accountability needs to occur in a new way. Word is Bond to the Father. Let’s not be sorry, Let’s correct this fucking Error. Rest Easy Queen #BREONNATAYLOR

— Busta Rhymes (@BustaRhymes) September 24, 2020


— COMMON (@common) September 23, 2020

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