February is Black History Month and we’ll be celebrating all month long by speaking with activists, politicians, historians, musicians, athletes, and more to highlight the history and contributions Black individuals have made to the culture and this country.
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Don’t call it a comeback, because Nelly actually never left. With that said, a resurgence of sorts seems fitting, to describe Nelly’s newfound popularity as commercial appearances, his New Year's Rockin' Eve performance, recent Dancing with the Stars stint, and his song being sampled by Erica Banks on ’“Buss It,” have helped a whole new generation learn what we’ve known all along, loving Nelly is no “Dilemma.”
Just last year, Nelly celebrated 20 years of Country Grammar, he now is funnily enough bringing things full circle with a “country influenced” album called “Heartland.”
As Nelly already disclosed, new music should be arriving some time this year, most likely summertime. His conversation with RADIO.COM's Natasha Castles, covered everything from his thoughts about today’s Hip Hop, his space in the cross section of Hip Hop and Country, when inspiration hits, and more.
Natasha referred to Nelly as “the guy to go to for adult melody” once upon a time. When asked to share who stands out to him musically and lyrically, as doing the same nowadays, it prompted a full discussion about the evolution and public reception of music in general.
"Generations always argue with generations when it comes to music… I remember, my grandmama thought Run D.M.C. were hoodlums… because they were on the cover with leather jackets and no shoe strings,” laughs Nelly. He continued, “so I never try to argue with people about Hip Hop because I understand that Hip Hop was created by the youth for the youth. So the youth always has to control it… It’s the rebellious music, it’s the music of the time.”
“I love Gunna, I love Young Thug, and obviously Drake is chipping his space into the Mount Rushmore of music… Kendrick is dope." Adding, “I think there’s a lot of great talent that's out there right now,” including “the women that are killin’ the scene,” listing off Cardi B and Saweetie. Forgetting to mention Megan Thee Stallion, which we’ll forgive him just this once, he did note that this is a “historic moment for music, the way the ladies are impacting it,” and taking control.
No doubt Nelly’s list of hits are countless. Talking about past collaborations and spending time in the studio got Natasha curious about how inspiration for new tracks hits these days. “The thing about music is, if you’re a songwriter… inspiration can hit you anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re watching TV… if you’re out in the park, even if you’re in the bathroom… even at a kids party, you can hear something that could jumpstart an idea. And you just try and take those things… and create and mold them into something hopefully the whole understands.”
In between the then and now, Nelly has made a name for himself in the Country music lane. Knowing his place, he doesn’t refer to his music as actual Country but rather “Country influenced.” Whatever he chooses to call it, he’s beautifully mastered the merging of the this and the that. With past collabs like, “Over and Over” with Tim McGraw and with Florida Georgia Line with the tracks “Cruise” and "Lil Bit," Nelly’s found a sweet spot in the middle of both music worlds and he's choosing to run with it, as he should.
In honor of Black History Month, in celebration of those who blazed a trail and created their own lane and continue to shape the culture, Castles asked Nelly “what is happening now in music that you hope will echo through Black History Month celebrations to come.” To this Nelly’s answer was quite extensive, but we’ll give you the condensed version and to hear more you’ll have to just watch the full interview for yourself. Basically Nelly’s hope if for the ladies to continue shattering glass ceilings and making their stamp, not just up at the mic, but also expanding their talents to “music video directors, movies and shows,” and to wherever else they see fit. Here Here Nelly! We agree.
Elsewhere Natasha prompted Nelly to take a trip down memory lane, to the Nellyville era and recall what life felt like when recording “Pimp Juice,” as well as share his thoughts on the importance of The Saint Lunatics and their impact on music and culture. They also chatted briefly about Nelly’s appearance on Verzuz last year.
For all that and more check out Nelly’s entire interview above.