In 2000, while rap music was primarily dominated by Def Jam’s Billboard dominance and the emerging Cash Money Records, a newcomer from a normally innocuous flyover state debuted out of nowhere with a single that – despite its catchy and instantly recognizable hook – belies its overall street sensibilities. That song, “Country Grammar,” would go gold, launch the career of Nelly, and his eponymous album would go on to sell 8.6 million copies.
Continuing on with their viral “Magnum Opus” series, Complex Music sat down with Nelly as well as several members of the St. Lunatics, comedian/actor Cedric The Entertainer and others to talk about his breakout smash single. In the piece, Nelly talks his come-up, blowing up without a major co-sign, earning the praise from the likes of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, and much more.
And, per usual, take a trip down memory lane: