Nelly: Shut Em Down

posted July 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 56 comments

Cornell Hayes, Jr. probably doesnt get the credit he deserves. Regardless what you think of his music, he has sold over 30 million copies of his albums worldwide. Thats no easy feat for anyone. Hes been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards and has taken home three - once again, no easy feat. But those accomplishments have not come without constant criticism. Some have said Nelly isnt real Hip Hop while others have even go as far to say hes killing Hip Hop. But Nelly hasnt said much in return and continues to cash checks and proceed into other business ventures (Apple Bottoms and ownership in Charlotte Bobcats for instance).

For all that Nelly has done without the use of violent lyrics, one would think hed be recognized for his successes more than anything else. Unfortunately for Nelly, this is not true as his most notable controversy had yet to come.

He caused a massive ruckus amongst women with his R rated video for Tip Drill and was subsequently told by the all-female contingency at Spelman College that he was not welcome to be a part of a charity drive for bone marrow registry. His sister would pass away in 2005 from Leukemia after a suitable bone marrow donor could not be found. We havent heard as much as a peep from Nelly since. In 2008, Nelly plans to make his return with his latest venture titled Brass Knuckles.

But today is a different day. Gold is the new platinum and the guard has changed. Instead of Nelly being the new movement, Soulja Boy has become the drink of choice for young Hip Hop fans. Where does that leave Nelly?

HipHopDX got to sit down with Nelly to discuss Soulja Boy, his whereabouts, working with Chuck D, regrets and his new album.

HipHopDX: You havent put out an album in a while. When you see the Soulja Boys and others make their rise, do you feel that theres a void with you gone?
I love Soulja Boy [click to read]. I think what people are forgetting is that Hip Hop was created by the youth. So why are all the old people trying to control it? You feel what Im saying? It was created by the youth. We chose our own music and we chose what we wanted to rock out to. The only reason Hip Hop was formed was because people were trying to tell us what we should be listening to and what we should be doing. Our grandparents said that it wouldnt last, that it was horrible and all that. We (as a community) better stop doing that because do you know what we look like to our kids? A bunch of fucking haters. My daughter loves Soulja Boy. Why would I hate on Soulja Boy? Why would I want to be a hater in the eyes of my daughter?

DX: Its been four years since your last album. How have you matured as an individual?
When you lose someone as close to you as your sister, then you turn around and lose your grandfather, it makes you appreciate everybody else that much stronger. Every time somebody dies, you grow. You realize certain things that you have to move on from. I just wanted to continue what Ive been doing. I always take a fresh approach when its time to make an album. I always try to find a new sound that aint out there. Thats just my approach on life period.

DX: You mentioned that Chuck D is on the album, which is going to be a surprise to a lot of people. How did that happen?
I did this song and just thought that Chuck would be ill on it. We was at [BETs] Hip-Hop Vs America and I was talking to him backstage and told him I had a crazy idea that Id love to get him on. He was like, Its done! I said, Yeah so its crazy, and he said, Brothaits done! That just made me feel real good for him to trust in me that I wouldnt bring him something Chuck D would sound crazy on.

DX: Around the time of Hip-Hop Vs America, a lot of people tried to come at you about Tip Drill and the video ho elements in videos. Do you have any regrets about anything youve done in the past?
Never. No regrets. I did nothing wrong. I made an adult video for an adult program that came on at an adult time that said parental guidance. I feel privileged that I have fans that range in age from eight to 80. But be that as it may, you cant be mad at the father because the son found the Playboy books that he was hiding. You didnt mean for him to find them, but he found them. Now lets explain that to him and let him know that its not the end of the world. Let him know that those books arent for him. Those books are for adults and he shouldnt be watching or reading this. If your kid is up watching videos at 3am on a Monday? Thats not a Nelly problem. I have no control over that part. How is it that my daughter hasnt seen Tip Drill?

DX: The other thing that is little discussed about you is that you do a lot of philanthropy work.
See, that aint appealing to people.

DX: Well, lets make that appealing.
I tried to. But I dont do that for the appeal. I dont give a fuck about what the masses think. All I care about are the kids I see in the Cancer wards and the burn wards. I bring smiles to their faces when I visit them. I feed 1500 families through Feed the Children. We hold bone marrow drives and weve found donors for seven people and helped save seven lives. So to all the people that are critical of me, how many lives have you saved? You want to talk about Nelly, but what are you doing in your community? Its crazy because all the people that criticize me probably dont have ten hours of community service served in their lifetime. I have thousands!

DX: Why do you think they ignore it though?
Because its not news worthy. The same reason why we dont stress the good in Hip Hop, but we stress the bad. The same reason why there are some people that will say that Hip Hop is a poison to black people. How the hell can you say that the largest employer of black people on this planet is a poison? How the fuck can you say that? You want to talk about ignorance? Not just rap, not just music. Theres producers, cameramen, magazines, clothing lines, anything. All of that is from Hip Hop. We have employed millions and millions of people. My daughter goes to one of the best schools in St. Louis, all because of Hip Hop! We have doctors and lawyers who are Hip Hop! How can you say that this culture is a poison? Thats the wackest shit ever! How can you not say that the government is not a poison to black people? How can you not say that drugs are a poison to black people? Poverty and the high unemployment rate? How can you not say that those are a poison, yet, you can say that the music that came from nothing and made into something and has provided for so many families is a poison?

DX: Lets get into your album. Last year you did the BET Hip Hop Awards and it seemed like that it was at that time you were making your comeback. But then the album stalled a little bit. What was going on?
The thing was that I had to take care of my business with the label. Here my album is, but you [the label] are going to pay me. I gotta get mine! If I dont make them give it to me now, why would you give it to me later? I dont want to take that chance with my business. Trust you [the label]? No, trust me! You can afford to fuck up! I cant afford to. If you fuck up, youre going to find another hot artist to put some money behind to make some money. If I fuck up, Im done!

DX: How much more life do you have in this game?
As much as my fans allow me. Im not trying to stretch it out and milk anything. If I feel like I cant contribute, then Im done?

DX: Are you concerned about sales at all? Record sales are down big since the last time you released an album.
Let me tell you something. I could sell two records with this album, who has sold more than me total? Okay then, that aint shit to me. Even if one of my albums didnt do the best, I mean come on, Michael Jordan didnt win a ring every year. Its just one of those scenarios. Everything isnt going to be your best work. But you keep trying and busting your balls and keep showing people that you are just as relevant as you were before.

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