Rapper Nelly was born Cornell Haynes, Jr. in Austin, Texas, on November 2, 1974, to Cornell Haynes, Sr. and Rhonda Mack. Shortly after he was born, he followed his parents moved to Spain until he was three, because his father was in the U.S. Air Force. He moved back to states and got his education in St. Louis, Missouri. There he found himself moving in with relative to relative since his parents split, which happened when he was 8 years old, because of financial problems. Grew up in a broken-home family, young Nelly admitted to get used into a lot of fights and troubles, because of which in 1993 he left his gritty St. Louis neighborhood and settled in the suburban area of University City. There, by the time he started high school, Nelly shifted his attention to playing baseball, storytelling, and writing rhymes that helped keep him out of trouble.
Up to that point, this would-be famous rapper showed great promise as a professional baseball player, but as a child he listened to artists such as Rahiem, LL Cool J, Run DMC, OutKast, and Goodie Mob and he too wished he could become a rap star. During his senior high he kept continuing to work on his baseball skills as he formed a group with 5 of his friends, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, Ali, City Spud, and Slo'Down, called the St. Lunatics. Two years later Nelly and St. Lunatics released a 12-inch self-produced single called "Gimme What Ya Got," which sold almost 10,000 copies and scored a regional hit in 1996. Continued with the Lunatics while playing shortstop in the St. Louis Amateur Baseball Association, it looked as though Nelly would be a professional baseball player. After sometimes, the group managed to put out another song called "Who's The Boss," which became a local hit, helped their reputation locally, sadly didn't grab the interest of record companies.
In response to the failure, the frustrated St. Lunatics decided to try their luck in Atlanta and teamed up with Kula who at that time was managing Mase. By and by, all the group members realized that Nelly would have a better chance to get a record deal on his own, based on which they sent him alone, thinking he might be success and indeed they were right. This became a decisive moment following Nelly and Kula sign to Universal Records executive Kevin Law in 1999. Unexpectedly, this good news immediately turned to such a deep grief when Nelly found out City Spud had been arrested. That's when he started wearing the band-aid under his left eye and made it as his trademark in an attempt to let City Spud knows he hadn't forgotten him somehow. On June 25, 2000, he released his debut album dubbed "Country Grammar," which borrows the hook from the children's song "Down, Down, Baby" and features contributions from the St. Lunatics as well as the Teamsters, Lil Wayne, and Cedric the Entertainer.
As this album was outed, Nelly's music career was highly rocketed as "Country Grammar" debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 40, managed to sneak past Eminem and Britney Spears on the Billboard charts by August 26, 2000. In line with the success of the LP Nelly himself was nominated for two 2001 Grammy Awards, Best Rap Album and Best Rap Solo Performance. On July 18, 2001, one year after its release, "Country Grammar" had already hit 7x platinum. Awesome !!! The bestseller album, in addition, also distinguished Nelly's music from others, in which he offers a laid-back delivery, deliberately reflecting the distinctive language and Southern tone of the Midwest. Even supposing as a success solo artist, still Nelly said he's a member of the St. Lunatics and will always be its member. Accordingly, he kept his words by releasing St. Lunatics debut album "Free City" in 2001 featuring hit single "Midwest Swing."
The following summer Nelly returned with his second album "Nellyville" and lived up to his self-proclaimed "#1" billing as one of the most famous rappers in the early 2000s, with an image of being equal parts handsome boy-next-door and tough gangsta. Along with his self-success, the album "Nellyville" topped the Billboard album chart while The Neptunes-produced lead single, "Hot in Herre," remained atop the singles chart. Thoroughly, he held the number one spot on ten different Billboard charts the week of the album's release. When it came to the year of 2002, single "Hot in Herre" had become tremendously popular, just the way its follow up "Dilemma," which featured vocals by Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child. "Dilemma" ranked at # 1 for ten weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first ever rap song in Billboard history to reach such achievement.
In 2003 Nelly released the controversial single "Air Force Ones," which MTV, MTV2, and VH1 refused to air due to product placement for the popular sneakers of the same name, but was finally aired by BET. On November 23rd that year, he produced his third album "Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention," which was featured as the year comedy horror flick "The Haunted Mansion" soundtrack. Following then two new albums were released on September 14, 2004. The first outed was "Suit," an R&B-oriented album, debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart; and "Sweat," a rap-oriented album, debuted at #2 on the chart. The previous album spawned an unlikely duet with country music star Tim McGraw, which resulted in the slow ballad "Over and Over" that became another crossover hit. To complete the success of the hit, Nelly performed the song with McGraw on the latter's CBS Television concert special during the same year.
Apart from his music career, Nelly and her sister Jackie Donahue, who died of leukemia on March 24, 2005, started "The Jes Us 4 Jackie," a campaign for more bone marrow and blood stem cell donors they needed and more for African-Americans or minorities. Moreover, he also once appeared in the "Bad Boys 2" (2003) soundtrack with P. Diddy and Murphy Lee, singing "Shake Ya Tailfeather," and has a clothing line dubbed "Vokal." To add, Nelly is part owner of the NBA expansion team Charlotte Bobcats with BET founder Robert Johnson as of 2005. As for his personal life, Nelly has fathered one daughter named Chanel, born in 1994, and one son named Cornell III "Tre", born in 1999.
Valuing his music skill, Nelly got numerous awards for instance; "Best New Artist" at the 1st Annual BET Awards in 2001; Favorite New Male Artist at the 2001 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards; 2002 American Music Award for "Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist"; 6 Billboard Music Awards in 2002, including Artist of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Male Hot 100 Artist of the Year, Male R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, Rap Artist of the Year, and Rap Track of the Year for "Hot in Herre" and received nominations in 8 other nominations; and 2003 American Music Award for "Fan's Choice" as he also received 4 other nominations. Moreover, he was also named one of People Magazine's "Breakthrough Stars of 2001"; nominated for two 2002 Grammys: Best Rap Solo Performance ("Ride Wit Me") and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Where the Party At?" with Jagged Edge); ranked #39 on Entertainment Weekly's 2002 "101 Most Powerful" List; featured in Teen People's "25 Hottest Stars Under 25" issue in 2001 and 2002; and was nominated for five 2003 Grammys: Album of the Year and Best Rap Album for "Nellyville", Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Dilemma", and Best Male Rap Solo Performance for "Hot in Herre," for which he favorably won for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Male Rap Solo Performance.
In 2004, his collection of Grammys was added with a Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group title that he won through a P. Diddy and Murphy Lee collaboration song called 'Shake Ya Tailfeather'. Not wasting anymore time he released two albums on the same day in that year. 'Suit' has the R&B side of Nelly while 'Sweat' covers the rap alter ego. The former went straight to #1 in Billboard Hot 200 chart followed by the latter at second place. It was his unlikely duet with country singer Tim McGraw in 'Over and Over' that brought the attention to 'Suit'. Both albums were packed as single compilation titled 'Sweatsuit' in 2005. For the next two years he was seen mostly as featured artist in many albums of his friends like R. Kelly and T.I.. In April 2007, the talented recording artist made headlines when he was reported ending his romance with longtime girlfriend Grammy Award-winning singer Ashanti. It wasn't until August 2007 that a new album from Nelly was announced. The highly-anticipated 'Brass Knuckles' is tentatively released on October 13, 2007.