For two of the nearly three decades that Nelly has been a hip-hop superstar, his success has intersected — and been greatly enhanced by — country music’s influence. In a recent Black History Month conversation with Radio.com’s Natasha Castles, he chronicled what about country has maintained his interest—from the groundbreaking 2004 Tim McGraw duet “Over and Over” to his 2020 CMT Music Award-nominated track “Cool Again” with Kane Brown.
“Everything is evolving, a lot of country music is evolving, [and] a lot of people are evolving with country music,” the famously St. Louis-born rapper noted.
Currently, he’s working on Heartland, a “country-inspired” album. Expected for release in summer 2021, his eighth studio album (and first since 2013) marks two decades since his star-making turn on Country Grammar.
Most of Nelly’s biggest career highlights have been linked to his country crossovers in the past fifteen years. Namely, following up his surprise top 10 Billboard Rap chart single with McGraw with Florida Georgia Line top five Billboard Hot 100 smash “Cruise” and 2020’s “Lil Bit,” plus work alongside Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen, and more have cemented Nelly as arguably as much a staple of hip-hop culture as he is a country chart-topper.
Regarding working with the rap legend, Kane Brown says, “I loved working with [him] just because I grew up listening to his music. I loved ’Country Grammar.’ And then, doing the music video [for “Cool Again”], it was like we had been boys for years. To see his energy and everything he brought to the video just pumped me up even more.”