Enter Nellyville

Enter Nellyville
By now the story of Nelly's meteoric rise to stardom is a well-known, oft-recited part of hip-hop history. The member of the St. Louis-based rap collective, the St. Lunatics, inks a deal with Universal Records, drops a sizzling single with a familiar nursery rhyme hook and releases a debut album that spawns three humongous hits, yielded three Grammy nominations and sold an incredible nine million plus copies worldwide.

In the Summer of 2000, Nelly charged onto the music scene with Country Grammar, much to the delight of the legions of fans who now rank him among hip-hop's premier artists.

As his celebrity grows, the twenty-four year old star's story has taken more breadth. He has become an international, multimedia star touted by the entertainment industry for his achievements. The critical acclaim, the accolades and the awards rolled in almost as fast as the record sales. He snagged four Grammy nominations, two for Best Rap Solo Performance ("Ride Wit Me," "Country Grammar"), Best Rap/Song Collaboration ("Where The Party At," with Jagged Edge) and Best Rap Album (Country Grammar); two Source Awards; an MTV Video Music Award; BET, American Music and Soul Train awards.

Describing his sophomore album, Nellyville, as a picture of "life after success," Nelly says Nellyville depicts him in his natural element: having a good time. The songs are so vivid, so real and alive, filled with the sights and sounds of Nelly's utopia: "Nellyville." "Nellyville is when I'm out kicking it, when I'm having fun, or when I'm chillin' with my folks", he says.

The album's first single, the Neptunes-produced "Hot In Herre" ('here' with a St. Louie twist), is a flame-throwing, soul-burning, shirt-sticking-to-your-skin party joint. "Hot In Herre" features Universal Records' newcomer Dani Stevenson singing the hook.

The Neptunes are just one of the big name acts that appear on Nellyville, which, by hip hop standards, has a relatively small number of cameos. With the exception of his fellow St. Lunatics crew - who are family, not guests - Nelly is joined by *N Sync's Justin Timberlake on the rump-shaking "Work It" (Nelly appeared on the remix of N*Sync's "Girlfriend") and Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland on "Dilemma".

Another one of Nelly's favourites from Nellyville is "Splurge." The deeply personal song addresses the haters who criticize his success and his wealth.

On the field or in the studio, Nelly's a fierce competitor who likes the feeling of being number one - a feeling he is sure to experience again with the release of his sophomore album, Nellyville.

And just as audiences participated on songs like "Country Grammar," "EI," "#1," "Ride Wit Me" and "Where the Party At," they'll find loads of opportunities to sing along once they enter Nellyville. In "On the Grind," Nelly keeps the party jumping and spits the truth from one breath to the next.

Another standout song is "Pimp Juice," a track that Nelly says is a bit of a stylistic departure for him. One part funk, one part rock, the song boasts a slithering melody, a retro guitar, and smoothed out vocals that will make listeners do a double-take.

Forever trying to take a dream "somewhere it ain't never been," Nelly continues to stretch his horizons and explore his passions. Less than six months after Country Grammar's release, Nelly branched out into acting by starring in the independent movie "Snipes." The movie is slated to be released in 2002.

Nellyville isn't a place or a time or a destination. It's about Nelly's reality: realizing dreams and creating possibilities.

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