Nelly is prepared to make his return to music by tapping into his Country Grammar roots. The St. Louis native announced his long-awaited country music album Heartland is due Friday (Aug. 27), his first project since 2013.
The eighth studio album will feature heavy country influences in sound and style, creating his unique cross-format blend of music, according to a press release. Nelly released his second single from the album, “High Horse” featuring Blanco Brown and Breland, and also teased a new, unnamed song with “Cool Again” collaborator Kane Brown ahead of the album’s release.
Nelly will also be the first rapper to headline an upcoming installment of the notable music series CMT Crossroads. “CMT Crossroads: Nelly & Friends” will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 1st at 10 p/9c and feature the “Tip Drill” rapper alongside his aforementioned country collaborators. The show will highlight new music from Heartland, a performance of Nelly’s chart-topping hip-hop hits, and a few surprises celebrating the 20th anniversary.
“I’m excited to celebrate my music with my friends and fellow artists on Crossroads!” said Nelly in a provided statement. “When people talk about me crossing lines and genres, I think about it more that music brings folks together.”
CMT Crossroads debuted in 2013 and features country music stars paired with musicians from other genres, sharing music and stories. Previous showcases include partnerships with Ray Charles and Travis Tritt, Bon Jovi and Sugarland, Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire, Def Leppard and Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks and Lady Antebellum, Alicia Keys and Maren Morris, and Halsey and Kelsea Ballerini, among others.
This is not the 46-year-old’s first time venturing into the country scene. In 2004, he enlisted country music star Tim McGraw for “Over and Over.” The record, featured on the Suit album (dually released with Sweat) peaked at No. 3 on the US Hot 100 chart. In 2020, he released the song “Lil Bit” with Florida Georgia Line. The hip-hop and country music hybrid track was the second collaboration—which certified platinum last month—between the two acts.
Nelly performed “High Horse” on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday night (Aug. 23) with the assistance of an all-Black live band. The three men on the feel-good song profess their love of country girls from “Texas to Kentucky” and encourage listeners to step down from their “high horse,” and “drop that thing.”
Watch the performance of “High Horse” by Nelly featuring Breland and Blanco Brown on Jimmy Kimmel Live below: