Nelly is an American rap musician and entrepreneur from Missouri who is known for chart topping singles such as Dilemma, Country Grammar and Hot In Here and for founding his own clothing line, non-profit charities and appearances in film and television roles. He was born as Cornell Haynes Jr. on November 2, 1974 in Austin, Texas but has adopted the stage name of Nelly. His father was in the U.S. military but his parents divorced when he was 7 years old and he moved from St. Louis to University City, Missouri. He had a troubled childhood, rife with financial difficulties and getting into fights. In high school he played baseball and showed promise of going pro. He also showed interest in music from a young age, and formed a high school band by the name of The St. Lunatics. The band achieved some measure of success with their hit single “Gimme What Ya Got”. However, they failed to procure a record deal so Nelly decided to take his career solo.
He signed a contract with Universal Music Group in 1999 and launched his debut album titled “Country Grammar” in 2000. The album was a hit and debuted at No. 3 in the Billboard 200 Chart and reached number 1 on the Album Chart. It went platinum nine times over in the U.S. and featured other well known artists such as Lil Wayne, and his former high school band, The St. Lunatics. The first single on it, titled “Country Grammar” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and No. 1 on the rap chart. Other songs on the album were also received well.
The next year, Nelly released an album with his band St. Lunatics, titled “Free City”. This album also went platinum in the U.S. and Nelly soon released his second solo album titled “Nellyville”. This was another huge hit, going platinum 6 times in the U.S. and being nominated for “Album of the Year” at the 2003 Grammy Awards. The song “Hot In Here” featured on this album was featured at No. 1 on the charts and received the award for “Best Male Rap Solo Performance” at the Grammys. The album boasted several other major hits as well, such as Dilemma, Work It and Air Force Ones. It also featured collaborations with many renowned artists such as Justin Timberlake, Kelly Rowland, Murphy Lee and The St. Lunatics. Nelly was then at the height of his success and featured No. 1 hits on 10 different Billboard Charts simultaneously.
Adding to his already impressive collection, Nelly continued to launch albums in quick succession. The first of these was a remix album called “Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention” released in 2003. Then came an R&B album called “Sweat” which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard albums chart and a rap album called “Suit” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart. Both these albums were released in 2004 and a compilation of the two with some new tracks was released in 2005 and titled “Sweatsuit”. Nelly’s fifth studio album was titled “Brass Knuckles” and released in 2008, followed by “5.0” launched in 2010.
Nelly owns two lines of clothing called Apple Bottom and Vokal. He also runs a non-profit organization called “4Sho4Kids Foundation”. His sister Jackie was diagnosed with leukemia in 2003 and he started the “Jes Us 4 Jackie” campaign to educate minorities about bone marrow transplants. He launched a limited edition line of shoes with Nike called “Air Derrty” and also signed a shoe deal with Reebok. He has made appearances in the hit TV show CSI: NY and the film “The Longest Yard” starring with Hollywood actors Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. He was previously part owner of the basketball team Charlotte Bobcats along with Robert L. Johnson and Michael Jordan. He is currently 39 years old and has an estimated net worth of $55 – $60 million.