By Claire Downs
Cornell Haynes, Jr. turns 42 today, and if you don’t know who I’m talking about, get your Pimp Juice and grab a sip. The artist, née Nelly not only provided us with the essential soundtrack to our awkward middle school dances, he dramatically changed the rap game with his STL slang and singing style. We owe a lot to the man who made us buy our first CD, beg our moms for a grill, and learn how to confidently shout, “Àndale, àndale, mami, E.I., E.I UH-OH!” So get your face-bandaid and your Air Force Ones ready as we pay respect to Nelly’s legacy “up in herre.”
Nelly made the Midwest cool.
On July 21st of this year, Nelly’s debut album, Country Grammar went certified diamond, meaning it’s sold 10 million units. With this achievement, Nelly has been added to an elite class of rappers (only eight other rap albums have ever gone diamond.) The others: Biggie (Life After Death), 2Pac (All Eyez on Me, Greatest Hits), Outkast (Speakerboxxx/The Love Below), Eminem (The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show), the Beastie Boys (Licensed to Ill) and MC Hammer (Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em). But despite Nelly’s commercial success he always stayed true to his St. Louis roots. He brought his regional rap styles to the mainstream and taught pop music to embrace his hometown style.
Nelly was the last real raunchy rapper to perform at the Super Bowl.
Ok, so in 2004 Janet Jackson infamously let a boob slip out during her Super Bowl Halftime performance and the suits at the NFL totally overreacted. It’s like we all got grounded and no real ratchet performances were allowed at the show, especially hip hop. Nelly happened to perform on NippleGate night in 2004 and if you saw it then you saw an amazing show. Since then the closes we’ve come to raunchy hip hop performances are The Black Eyed Peas, Missy Elliott and a tamed Nicki Minaj performance. Sorry, that just doesn’t cut it.
Nelly made it cool for millennials to be ridiculous when Flo-Rida performs.
Everyone knows that Flo-Rida is the Nelly 2.0 upgrade that no one truly loves, but we embraced it after a while. That acceptance phase eventually allowed us to live, let go and get low to all of Flo’s cheesy radio-friendly party anthems. Some of us take it a bit too far. No judgment, though.
Nelly gave us a reason to spin “Hot in Herre” 4 million times for a great cause.
In September of this year, TMZ reported that Nelly was hit with an IRS debt of over $2.4 million. Spin clapped back with some statistics and calculated that if we all did our part to stream “Hot in Herre” (and other Nelly tracks), we could pull the rap icon out of debt as a society. The number of streams needed to make Nelly some money? 402,880,500. The hashtags #SaveNelly and #DoitforNelly emerged, and social media came through.
Nelly gave us the soundtrack for messy relationship goals.
Finding love is hard out here for millennials and things can get messy. Thanks to Nelly’s hit collaboration with Kelly Rowland, “Dilemma,” we can always find the words to express our issues.