2002 Man of the Year

nelly2.jpgNelly made naysayers eat their words in 2002. With his patty-cake beats and jump-rope melodies, with those jocky Band-Aids on his cheek and that Midwestern drawl and all the attention he got from high-school girls, St. Louis’ first rap star had a lot of people thinking that the eight million copies he sold of his 2000 debut, Country Grammar, was a fluke. A passing fad they called him. A one-hit wonder.

Two years later, though, he came back even bigger. Seemed like errtime you turned on the radio or TV, therr he was, talking about, it’s “hot in herre.” (And suggesting that we all might be more comfortable if we took off our clothes.) The hits didn’t stop: “Dilemma,” “Air Force Ones,” “Pimp Juice,” “#1.” The album Nellyville laughed in the face of the sophomore jinx, surpassing six million in sales, earning two Grammy Awards, and very definitively proving Nelly was here to stay. XXL hit the busy, busy derrty dude via e-mail to get his reminiscences.

After having such huge success with your first album, were you nervous about the sophomore curse going into your second one?
I wasn’t concentrating on curses or being jinxed. I was excited about working on my next album and going to the next level. It’s all about growth.

What was your favorite song from Nellyville?
I really wouldn’t say I have a favorite song. I have songs that fit different moods, so when I’m in a certain mood, that’s my favorite song for that mood I’m in.

Do you feel like you ran 2002?
I wasn’t really focused on running the year. I just felt like I had a great year and I accomplished the goal, which was to make a great album.

Were you excited to bring St. Louis to the forefront in rap?
Yeah, most definitely! That’s what Country Grammar was about. Nellyville was a way to show my versatility as an artist and to bring more personality to the album.

Nellyville was very different, in sound and style, from your first album. Were you scared that people wouldn’t take to it?
You can’t really focus on being nervous or afraid. You just have to give it your all and hope your fans will be as loyal as they were the first time around.

You have a rare ability to appeal to both the fellas and the ladies. Did you expect that?
Well, I always had young men tellin’ me that they like my style and askin’ about how to break into this industry. As far as the ladies, well, I think I’m good with the women.

——- Read the rest of our Nelly feature in XXL’s September 2007 issue (#95)

XXL Staff Picks

Songs of the Year:

“Hot in Herre,” Nelly
“I Need a Girl (Part 1),” P. Diddy featuring Usher & Loon
“What’s Luv?,” Fat Joe featuring Ashanti
“Oh Boy,” Cam’ron featuring Juelz Santana
“Move Bitch,” Ludacris featuring Mystikal and I-20
“Still Fly,” Big Tymers
“Pass the Courvoisier, Pt. II,” Busta Rhymes featuring P. Diddy & Pharrell
“Grindin,” Clipse
“Welcome to Atlanta (Remix),” Jermaine Dupri featuring P. Diddy, Snoop Dogg & Murphy Lee
“Wanksta,” 50 Cent

Albums of the Year:

The Fix, Scarface
Lord Willin’, Clipse
Come Home With Me, Cam’ron
The Eminem Show, Eminem
Kings of Crunk, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz

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  • John Brown

    Man, Clipse should had been artist of the year in 02. And another thing how long did it take Lil Jon’s album KOC to go platinum? Didnt it go platinum untill 03. How can he have album of the year when it went platinum until 03?

  • Holla

    Clipse? WTF is wrong with you. They weren’t even close to as big as nelly or eminem that year. hot in here was the biggest song in the country.

  • Rockcity

    I seen this comin, 03 will b 50 cent, 04 should be kanye west,

  • big face

    rock city i agree wit u my nigga

  • http://wffrdf S on my Chest

    Shit 02 was bleak year. This clown is shit just ask Hav!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rodjilius

    hah nelly did hit it real big dat year 03 probably will be 50 tho

  • http://Rubberbandman_500hotmail.con son of sam

    Yo u guys r faggs, i mena nelly runned that year but he can’t RAPPPPPPPPPPP Nas should be it becaus stillmatic came out 01′ he was equal 2 jay that year n murdered him, 02 ‘ he showed his hits and drop god’s son showing hes the king of new York . I mean god’s son was one of his best(not close 2 stillmatic) and Jay had good production so did stilmatic with DJ premier the best producer after dre. Nas is KING!

  • http://wffrdf S on my Chest

    How can Nas be the King if he’s lining Jay’s pockets. If Nas was so great he wouldn’t be working for Jay. A good rapper but Jay runs New York and 50 is on his tail.

  • blaktwan

    ’05 could be jeezy but more than likely it will be The Game. 06 will definetly be T.I.


    Shit 02 was bleak year. This clown is shit just ask Hav!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I aint gotta ask Hav, cuz Hav is shit, or should I write, ain’t shit. Just ask Tru Life, Jay, or betta yet Pac’s Ghost.

  • Were Read 2 Def

    Nelly? WTF…he didnt even have a great album dat year. U guys jus didnt want 2 give Eminem 2 different man of da years. Truth b told.

  • Stork

    No, No, No, bitches. You got it all wrong. Jeezy and Game? Nigga please. It’s:
    ’03 Fiddy
    ’04 Andrea 3000 (and Big Boi)
    ’05 Kanye
    ’06 TI
    ’07 Lil’ Wayne

  • Rockcity

    Nas does not work for Jay, Jay does not tell Nas what to nor what to say, Nas is simply part of Def Jam.

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    NELLY is one successful mothafucker!..CURTIS….

  • halle

    nelly was on fiyaah in 02 for in herre was the hottest single but nelly fell off wit flap your wings

  • Stax On Deck

    Nelly had shyt on lock. Niggaz be frontin like don’t fuck wit Nelly. FUCK MOBB DEEP! Fuckin Pussies!!

  • Dante

    Nelly was hot in ’02 but Eminem ran ’02.

    He put out The Eminem Show (the best selling album of that year), 8 Mile, and the 8 Mile Soundtrack.

  • W.K.

    damn i agree wit stork his list is deffinately true

  • DoubleClutch

    Nelly was going 5x platinum with his ablums so XXL was right wit Nelly. Clipse killed it with Lord Willin but of course only real rap heads would know that. Shout out to XXL.

  • N.O. 4 life

    lol…forget all those predictions and just go get the magazine….it is already on paper.

  • B. Ware tha Siniq

    Nelly is not even a rapper. Scarface, Cam, Clipse, & Em would’ve all been more acceptable answers. If you’re talking in terms of sales and impact Em owned ’02. He dropped the best selling album, signed Fiddy, and dropped a huge movie (that actually wasn’t bad, compared to most rap movies) with solid soundtrack.

  • brebre


  • grapes

    wait…if he was man of the year why ain’t his album one of the best for the year. LOL

  • Man

    lol yeah Nelly did have a good year in 02 but it was all Eminem that year. The Eminem Show was killing the charts and then he drop 8 Mile with it. Don’t forget Lose Yourself was at #1 for weeks.

  • Coca1n3


  • Cuban Link

    yeah, Em in ’02>>Nelly in ’02.But Lose Yourself was waaaaay bigger than Hot In Herre.And plus, Nelly doesnt deserve shit, I forgot the year but who remembers when he performed at Giant Stadium and the whole crowd booed him?But I guess u cant give it to the same dude twice.

    and btw, Grindin was the greatest song of the whole year.

  • H-LO

    What about about:
    Missy’s Under Construction?
    Surely one reason hip-hip could recognized as musical force in that year. But Eminem Show plus 8 Mile is an argument for the running the year title

  • Lil Roe

    I agree with this choice….2002 was def Nelly’s year….I think Country Grammar is still a tad bit better than Nellyville….

  • http://Jpulla John (Scooter) Burns

    man nelly was simply the best in 2002 all that

  • http://jbscorner John (Scooter) Burns

    nelly was simply the man of the year in 2002 reguardless of what haters say…Yeah Em had a good year with his album and movie but Nelly changed the game. You have to look at the situation, Nelly let the world saw another side of hip hop. Nelly let the world see its more to hip hop than shoot em up bang bang. Bottom line Nelly brought the new era to hip hop and it would not be what it is today

  • http://JohnsNewz J Burns

    Man Nelly really change the game in 2002. Nelly showed the word that Hip Hop can be Versatile, not all shoot em up bang bang…Nelly really paved the road for new hip hop generation. So all the other hating comments above just keep trippin

  • Генадий Петрович

    Вы не правы. Я уверен. Могу отстоять свою позицию. Пишите мне в PM.

  • Abdul Sosa

    ma nigga nellyville was a decent-pretty good album to one of those earlier comments. Dilemma was MUCHHH bigger than hot in herre both did months on #1 on 30 plus countries. Em did good man but nelly had 2 #1 hits, a top 3 hit (AF1, as if you didnt get it), #1 , pimp juice, work it, sold 6 million, em did what 8 million, signed fiddy(who RAN 03′ no denial there), did a sick soundtrack, ok but you realized that no1 can win twice, cuz 50 can win 03′ 05′, jay can win 98′ 01′ 03′ 06′, nas can win 94′,99′ you win, DMX 98′,99′. Nellyville did great #’s and was bigger than em show worldwide, 35 platinum worldwide you know how rare that is, also when em RAN 00′ you can consider nelly nell cuz country grammar was bangin’. P.S HOW THE FUCK IS LIL’ JON ON IT AND NOT NELLY NELL Nigga no lie i am a fan but im hip hop since 92′ ma nigga, and ive been bumpin’ em MMLP like fuck

  • Abdul Sosa

    W.e yo honestly nelly ran that year but I swear to god id kill to go back to 02′ my childhood was crazy then being 10.End of the day, hes done his music fell off w.e, nelly did like 40 million doesnt matter any more im listening to “say now” by nellyville. Im just talkin’ out my ass im bloawwww as fuck

  • Abdul Sosa


  • abdul

    I know people won’t see this since this is 5 years later but coming from a die hard em fan and a big nelly fan its no question nelly ran 02′.Em had the biggest selling album of the year,big movie and soundtrack and signed 50.OK very respectable but nelly had 2 of the BIGGEST hits of the year and decade(hot in herre,dilemma),2nd biggest selling album of the year and not a bad one,aswell as having #1 and air force ones as hits.Remember the man went gold or platinum in 35 countries,i know em outsells any artist but I doubt he did that.And the man led to the COMMERIALIZATION of hip hop from hits and making AF1 BIG ! Work it was an international hit and he had a BIG impact on rap hits(see 50,wayne,t.i).