St. Louis rapper Nelly burst onto the music seen 12 years ago with his debut album, Country Grammar.
Since then, the “Hot In Herre” emcee has sold millions of records, started his own clothing line, an energy drink company, and created a leukemia research foundation in honor of his late great sister Jackie Donahue, who lost her battle with the disease in 2005.
Fans haven’t heard much from Nelly over the past few years, but he’s back with his seventh studio album, M.O.
GlobalGrind caught up with the “Marry Go Round” rapper to chit-chat with him about his hiatus, being considered “cold” in the rap game, and of course, his relationship with R&B singer Ashanti.
Check out our exclusive interview below!
GlobalGrind: So you got the M.O. album coming soon?
Nelly: Yeah, my seventh joint. It’s probably dropping late August, fall. Probably late fall, early fourth quarter, something like that.
What does M.O. stand for?
Everybody call me Mo, anyway. Also, St. Louis is in the MO.
“Marry Go Around” features Chris Brown, how did you hook up with him?
Well, first of all, I’ve been knowing Chris for, sheesh — I don’t know how many years. I’m not saying know of him, I’m saying me and him have been cool like that for a couple of years now.
Like, chilling in the club cool?
No, no, no. Cool, like, we talk. But it’s one of those situations where I was working with Da Internz and we came up with this dope ass situation, and we were trying to figure out who we thought would pop the hook off. Obviously, when we got to banging it out, I thought that Chris would kill it.
Was there any doubt about putting him on the record — considering people always want to talk about his past?
Nah, he ain’t considering my past (laughs). Like, who I am? Listen, I get it, he made a mistake at a very young age. It just seems like sometimes the more that people want to cast, the more they have to hide. You act like you haven’t made a mistake. Let’s pull your shit out. And I get it, and I’m not condoning what he did, never that. But if you think about the shit that I’ve done, that I’m afraid to tell people about, or people find out about, even on that level – some people may not want to deal with me on a certain level. Especially when I was 18, 19-years-old making mistakes. Like, are you kidding me?
We all got our own dirt. And again, it’s nothing that we’re condoning, because I think you have quite a few people coming out, I don’t want to say in Chris’ defense, but to say, it is what it is. It’s a mistake.
You were on Jimmy Fallon the other day and you performed “Hot in Herre.” It’s been 10 years since that song and your Nellyville album dropped, how do you feel about that album and that time period?
At that time you feel like, you’re doing what I love. You’re not really seeing or knowing the impact of it at the time when you did it because we didn’t know that it was going to go and continue to sell and that the songs that were on it would be as big as they were — they helped define your career. You don’t know the magnitude of it. You just working. You just doing it. So, when you look back, it was a great moment in Nelly’s career.
What do you think of hip-hop landscape now?
I don’t know. It is what it is. Hip-hop was created by the youth, for the youth. So, in that theory of creation, that’s what always has to transpire. We can’t say ‘was created for the youth, by the youth,’ then when we get older we want to say: ‘well, this should happen and this should happen.’ I don’t think that’s the flavor. I think that’s very hypocritical of a lot of people. When we were young, no one older could tell us that what we were doing wasn’t hard. But, to tell my 13-year-old son that Yo Gotti ain’t the hardest shit he ever heard, or to tell my 19-year-old nephew that 2 Chainz ain’t the hardest shit he ever heard, I look like a hater.
Tell us more about the new album. There’re pictures of you and Dr. Dre on the Internet, is he going to be on your new album?
Nah, nah, nah. That scenario right there — that was me and Dre hanging out, vibing, just doing some work. It’s one of those situations where we were both in Vegas, we were hanging out and he was like ‘Yo, let’s go to the studio. Let’s vibe out and see what happens.’ We got a couple of things that we talked about in there. For right now, again, it’s Dre. When he says what he wants to do, then I’ll know what he wants to do.
He’s not on the album, but do you have anyone else?
For a majority of the album, I do want to make it more about me. Obviously, we got Chris. I got my man Trey Songz on the album. It should be going in a minute. I definitely got to finish the Wayne shit. I worked with producers like my man Detail, who’s phenomenal, stupid, Da Internz, also my man Rico Love, obviously.
Do you love making music or do you love things that music brings?
Nah, of course you love making music, man. I’ve been making music my whole life and to ask me if I love making music — you see the diversity that I put into my music. I go from one extreme to the next. I love when I told people I wanted to do this record with a Tim McGraw and people looked at me like I was crazy, and it worked. That’s what being creative is.
There’s always the question about your love life. Are you with Ashanti or not?
I don’t know, I think that’s the only question I ever said nothing about. Any other question that anybody has ever asked me personally, I’ve volunteered to answer. Like, I’ve never not answered anything else.
You just don’t feel comfortable talking about your love life, huh?
It ain’t about feeling uncomfortable, I just…I’m not uncomfortable to say we cool. We handling that. I don’t think that’s uncomfortable. I just think that it is what it is. That’s what me and her came to a conclusion that we were going to acknowledge when we wanted to acknowledge and what we want to acknowledge. That’s just it. It’s not an uncomfortable thing though.