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Nelly: the Rapper’s Heart

Back in days where hip hop fashion and rap music filled the whole world, there came a rap group from St. Louis, Missouri called St. Lunatics. The group St. Lunatics is the rap crew that released the popular hit “Gimmie What U Got”, in 1996 and “Summer in the City” and “Midwest Swing” in 2001. St. Lunatics consists of popular rappers today such as Ali, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, City Spud, and Slo’Down. But the most prominent rapper that came from St. Lunatics was its founder, Nelly.

Cornell Haynes Jr., better known by his stage name – Nelly, is an American rapper, singer, actor and entrepreneur that founded Vocal and apple bottoms. After St. Lunatics got signed to Universal Records, Nelly was the first member to go solo, and while Nelly was working on his solo album Country Grammar.

From St. Lunatics, Nelly become among  the most popular rapper in America. Highly successful, Nelly has sold over 20 million records in the United States. He also won Grammy Awards in 2003 and 2004.

Apart from being a popular singer/rapper, Nelly is also a popular actor who starred in movies such as the 2005 remake film – The Longest Yard, alongside Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. In addition to this, Nelly played in the Main Event at the 2007 World Series of Poker. He is also one of the owners of Charlotte Bobcats, along with Robert L. Johnson and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Nelly before the Nelly of the Now

True, Nelly has come a long way from St. Lunatics. And all of these started when he formed this group. He got his break when the members of St. Lunatics felt that Nelly would have a better shot at success as a solo act, gain recognition first as a soloist and then bring in the rest of his group. His biggest break came when released his single, County Grammar.

When he was signed to Universal Music Group after the decision of his brief split-up from St. Lunatics, Nelly then released his first major-label debut Country Grammar in 2000. The success of its title track as a single led to the album debuting at the third spot in the Billboard 200 in the U.S. Other singles from the album included “E.I.”, “Ride Wit Me”, and “Batter Up”.

Nelly also recorded album with St. Lunatics called Free City in 2001 with the hit single “Midwest Swing”. He also recorded a track titled “#1” for the soundtrack to the film Training Day that year.

Another hit album made by Nelly was the Nellyville. Nellyville was released and reached number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart with its leading single “Hot in Here”. Other singles within this album included the widely popular “Dilema” featuring Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child; “Work It” featuring Justin Timberlake, “Air Force Ones” featuring Murphy Lee and the St. Lunatics, and “Pimp Juice”.

Nike and Nelly agreed on a one-year deal in 2003 to release a limited-edition sneaker called the “Air Derrty” which was a retro remake of Charles Barkley’s signature sneaker – the Nike Air Max2 CB ’94. This was released in 2003 at selected NIKE town stores in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well the Squad 1 shoe store in St. Louis, Nelly’s hometown.

Because of his popularity in the music industry, Nelly received 2 Grammy Awards from the 2003 Grammys. One from Best Male Rap Solo Performance, and another shared with Kelly Rowland for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Also, Nelly won the 2003 American Music Award for “Fan’s Choice” and received four other nominations. Consecutively, Nelly also won his third Grammy in 2004 for his and P. Diddy’s guest vocals in Murphy Lee’s number-one hit single “Shake Ya Tailfeather” from Lee’s album Murphy’s Law.

The Jes Us 4 Jackie campaign began in March 2003 by Nelly and his sister Jackie Donahue, after she was diagnosed with leukemia, in search for donors. Donahue died in March 2005, almost exactly two years after the campaign began.

Nelly the Entrepreneur


Apart from being a popular and talented singer, rapper, and actor, Nelly is also as talented in the entrepreneurial plane. Nelly is among of the many popular entertainer of their industry, such as Sean John and Beyonce Knowles, which started their own fashion clothing lines. Nelly started his clothing line called Vokal in 1997 as a Hip Hop Fashion brand by Yomi Martin, his cousin Cornell “Nelly” Haynes and Nick Loftis.

The clothing label, titled Vokál, stands for “very organized kids always learning”. Being Vokal simply means, let your actions do the talking in a positive manner, which is what their clothing lines are for, to speak your mind. Both Nelly en Yomi Martin wanted to produce clothing where the designs would be so strong that the clothing would speak for itself. That’s why the slogan is ‘Vokál, the clothing speaks for itself’.

” Vokál means `speak for yourself’ and this clothing speaks for itself,” says Nelly.

Vokál thrives to have a universal appeal by developing products that can relate to the masses. Vokál started by selling shirts and hats in nightclubs, at events, and literally out of the trunk of the car. This old fashion-selling channel created a buzz and a Vokál explosion in St. Louis. Just three years after the company was established, Vokál had sold more than 50,000 shirts and was well on its way.

Vocal is not the only brand that Nelly founded. He also founded a clothing line made especially for the women, and that is the apple bottoms.

Apple Bottoms

<a href=””>apple bottoms</a> is a fashion and lifestyle brand for women, which was launched in 2003 by multi-platinum recording artist Nelly, alongside Yomi Martin & Ian Kelly. Nelly’s vision for apple bottoms is that “a woman should not try to fit the clothes; the clothes should fit the woman.

The jeans were designed from Nelly’s idea that clothes should fit the woman and not the other way around, and it’s true right? The applebottoms collection of jeans is notorious for emphasizing the female feature they’re named after, the derriere, and signature details like apple-shaped back pockets.

From its name, the applebottoms was derived from the term of a woman that has a large and rounded behind.

Aside from the jean’s voluptuous behinds to target consumers, it is meant to draw attention to the fact that not every woman has a supermodel figure. The jeans are flattering to women with curvy figures and are offered in a myriad of washes and rises.

The brand, which when launched, was exclusively a denim label, and has since gone through a major line-expansion. Currently the apple bottoms label includes: apparel, footwear, handbags, eyewear RX, intimates, sunglasses, accessories, jewelry, cold weather, and girl’s apparel.

The brand <a href=””>apple bottoms</a>   jeans are also popular with Pop Culture. The term “apple bottom jeans” is featured in the song “Low” by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain. The term is also used in the songs “Tip Drill” and “Paradise” by Nelly, the founder of the brand, and in the Eminem single “Shake That” from his 2005 album, Curtain Call, and his 2006 album The Re-Up.

The brand apple bottoms were also featured on a popular TV show called The Oprah Winfrey Show and stated there that apple bottoms jeans are of Oprah’s Favorite Things. Oprah also featured the jeans in her magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine. The jeans were also mentioned on The Ellen Degeneres Show, when the host answered a reader’s letter by citing Wikipedia. Also recently, <a href=””>apple bottoms</a>   was showcased on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 10 on March 5, 2008.

Nelly has become an icon for a lot of us. He has contributed largely on the music industry, the clothing industry, and on providing help to those who need assistance. Nelly still goes on and develops other things that could help this industry grow and prosper.

About the Author

Jefferson John Babasa is the Senior Copy Writer working with Optimind Web Design and SEO, a web design and seo company in the Philippines. Optimind specializes in building and promoting websites that are designed for conversion.

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