Is Nelly’s Time Finally Up?

I remember when Nelly first came out. With a few exceptions, I wasn’t too tolerable of rap from regions outside of the East and West at the time, so I just thought “Country Grammar” was horrible.

I forget what type of first week numbers the album did, but Pimp Juice was platinum soon enough. I still didn’t think much of it. Even when dude ended up selling 9 million. I just thought we’d look back on him as a 2000 Hammer-type, a talentless clown who got lucky and sold some records. Boy, was I wrong. Hate him or love him, (I’m not too fond of him), Nelly has had a pretty successful career. Not too many rappers have four multi-platinum albums on their resumes. I doubt he’ll ever had a fifth one, though.

I remember interviewing him about a year ago. At the time, that “Wadsyaname” single was out and Brass Knuckles was slated for a September release. Early critiques said Nelly sounded dated on the record. Pffftt! That ain’t nothing new. I always thought he sounded kinda primitive, but I guess it doesn’t matter when your first two albums sell 9 mill. Dude couldn’t believe critics were tagging him “dated,” though. Dated or not, something is off, cause dude is having all kinds of problems getting traction on his new records.

Brass Knuckles has been pushed back for nearly a year. Pimp Juice still gets plenty of placement at big award shows and exposure other artists can’t afford, but it seems like people just don’t care about his music anymore. Dude recently released “Body On Me,” his fourth single off Brass Knuckles, without counting that marching band joint he performed at the BET Awards and this new single he has with Usher. Interestingly, Nelly, a multi-platinum rapper himself, is collaborating with all sorts of huge stars, which may be a sign that he or his label are aware that he isn’t the star he once was. In fact, his first release was a solo effort, but every other single has Nelly sharing billing with Billboard charters. Still, like “Party People” featuring Fergie, “Step On My J’s” and “Wadsyaname” before it, “Body On Me” doesn’t look to be the record that will get Nelly back atop of the Billboard charts. The only thing I can see people taking from it, is that Ashanti, his longtime alleged boo, is featured on the record. Maybe the gossipy sites will talk about the video for a week and then move on.

Nonetheless, Nelly’s career is in jeopardy. Fif also had a hard time taking off last year, but his CD still hit stores within months. Nelly is going on a year on the shelf. As previously mentioned, he’s already on his fourth single. How much more money is Universal going to shell out before they make a decision to let him sink or swim? The more they keep investing into the project, the deeper they’ll be in the hole if it flops. And let’s just say Nelly does get his mojo back, he won’t do Mariah or Usher numbers, so Universal is probably not coming out of that hole on Brass Knuckles. What do you guys think? Is Nelly’s hour done, or can he pull out some heat in time?

  • micman

    Nelly used to fill a void in hip hop, making catchy pop songs that appealed to cross over audiences ie White people. Now every rap song tries to do that and with some success, so instead of him being different than everyone else he’s just another rapper trying to make hits just for the radio. Problem now is rappers like him are a dime a dozen. And his music went from unique to sounding like everyone else. Or in some cases worse than everyone else.

    • http://www.myspace.com/maxjerome Max-Jerome

      Wow, MicMan hit it with the fist response, I have nothing to say, thats exactly whats happening right now.

      Granted, Nelly will always be in the game, but he is trying too hard to achieve the success of Country Grammar, dancing and shit with his shirt all off.

      Apple Bottoms is worth like 100 million.

      Dude is straight, just not his music..

    • moe

      50 IS FINISHED AND SO IS NELLY…FUCK WHAT THEY’VE SOLD IN THE PAST THEM NIGGAS ARE WASHED UP…TAKE YOUR MONEY AND GO HOME NOBODY WANTED TO HEAR YOUR WACK MUSIC ANYMORE!

  • livefromthe225

    ^^^^^
    total cosign above statement

  • Phil

    I have to admit that Nelly definitely has his lane in Hip-Hop, but I am shocked that 3 singles have failed to connect with his audience. Has he been away too long? Has Wayne taken his audience? To go from FOUR multi-platinum albums to this struggling is wild to see.

  • Pierzy

    Some really good points in the comments above. He changed the game and now he’s competing against his ‘clones.’ I’m also not a big fan but he has (had?) skills but nobody’s checkin’ for him anymore. I know some of my boys that used to listen to him all the time that just don’t care. Sometimes that happens between albums – things pass you by and you can never catch up again. Plus, after all the ‘roids, he doesn’t look the same.

  • 809ese_dominicano_de_philly215

    nelly is slowly fading away just like fif
    there is a possibility that he will get his mojo back but i think most likely not nd if he does he wont be selling 9 mill he prob wont get past 300,000

  • AZ40

    As far as rap yes, he can probably still act and I just saw him on ESPN the other week, the worst thing a rapper can do is go on these fucking hiatus’ I’m sure it’s cool personally but not a smart career choice a nigga should be dropping an album at least every year and a half and if not make sure you puttin’ in heavy work on the mixtape scene, people need to hear you.

    I think that’s part of the reason Freeway flopped heavy, that’s why it’ll happen to Jadakiss, Juelz Santana, etc niggas got put out music and it’s gotta be good

  • DJ Knox

    Co-Sign on that Co-sign. Nellyu, can’t do it anymore. That pretty boy(no homo) act is done with. Wayne killed his career with the dreads and tats and dark skinted niggas finna be runnin u red bones!! LMAO Wesley early ’90s:”Never liked y’ light-skinned ass no way!!

  • mikebrowntheremix

    He could have easily secured a spot on the charts last year if he would have jumped on a “Low” remix with his musical doppleganger Flo Rida. Actually, he should have just done the track over himself as a “freestyle” of sorts.

    Or, he could have got Chad and Pharrell together again for a single. Both “Hot in Herre” and “Get Your Eagle On” went on to become mega-smashes.

    The Rap industry is ever-changing for musicians. You can’t take an Usher-like 5 year hiatus and expect to be relevant musically. Other than Apple Bottoms and a few acting gigs, Nelly has been under the radar.

    His time might not be over, but it sure as hell ain’t now.

  • http://xxlmag.com Philly215

    nelly still has fans though but yea he was one of the few that made hip hop records when he came out but now everybody is doing that shit which is the reason why hip hop is slowly dying we have a new version of Nelly in Flo-Rida anyway and everybody is making those type of records now Lil Wayne-Lollipop,Flo-Rida/Plies so pretty much is time is up along with 50′s

  • 239allday

    Nelly’s time is definitely up in the game. Even though his records wre very pop back in the day, they were all also very unique and he was creative with it. Now he just sounds like he’s just making an album just to keep his name ringing. Those singles that he’s recently put out are unbelievably formulaic.

    Nelly’s clone Flo Rida is making songs that sound more like Nelly, even though they all suck. I think everyone who starts working out just be feelin themselves too much and they start losing some of that talent: Dr. Dre, Missy, Timbaland, Jeezy etc…

  • http://XXLMAG dunfiya

    THATS THE PROBLEM THAT HAS BEEN PROPHECIZED SINCE EPMD’S “KEEP THE CROSSOVER” (GOOGLE YOUNGINS) OR ICE CUBE’S “BE TRUE TO THE GAME” ONCE YOU GIVE YOURSELF AWAY TO POP(WHITEY’S DEVIL’S ADVOCATE),YOUR CAREER NEVER RECOVERS,e.i.50 CENT,PUFFY,NELLY,HAMMER,95 SOUTH(WHOOT THERE IT IS FAME)

  • http://xxlmag.com Philly215

    Nelly still has money though Country Grammar and Nellyville both went multi platinum but i agree with mikebrown you can take breaks like that the reason a rapper like say wayne is successful is because dude stays consistent i mean he puts out a record or mixtape damn near every week or some cases everyday i mean nelly is still relevant though his J’s record is on a couple countdowns even hit #1 at one time

  • http://nonthreateningblackmale.blogspot.com LOL

    he jus needs a hit thats all.

    its not rocket science.

    if he made a hit like flo rida people would buy it.

  • http://www.xxlmag.com jackpot

    Word is he passed on “Low.” I bet you he wished he took the song now. But that kinda shows you, he doesn’t have a feel what’s hot anymore.

  • Eric

    Nelly’s time is over. Not only can he no longer carry a single by himself anymore, but he has taken a step back musically. An artist’s music is supposed to progress as they make more music. “Stepped on My J’z” is truly a step back for Nelly after 4 albums. That is a sign of a rapper falling off

  • Nic Diamonds

    The problem is his music I think it has little to do with him. If he finds a hit to connect then he’s right back with another Platnium album and fuck the haters If he got the hit record he’ll. He needs the right beats and I got some bangers holla at me Pimp!

  • EL BRECHADOR

    IT’Z A NEW ERA!

    UNSIGNED HYPE:HOTTEST LATINO ARTIST OUT RIGHT NOW? MYSPACE.COM/ELBRECHADOR809 500,000+ HITZ W/O A PIC.

  • Jason Murk

    Everybody’s star has to fade at some time.

    There’s only a handfull of artists that can defy the test of time, and Nelly just ain’t one of em.

  • THAT BOY NOAH

    the kid still has it but i think he just hit a slump right now.he’ll be back

  • giantstepp

    Neva been a fan but Ive seen and heard way worse then Nelly. He had a lane, got it while it was good and I cant be mad at him for that. He wont be able to give records away now tho (Master P anyone). P had a 2 maybe 3 year run where he cleaned the fcuk up and is set for life! Thats the new blueprint cause longevity in Rap is almost (I said almost) non-existent. Get it while its good rappers cause it’s a new game and moving major Units is a thing of the past. I’ll give the dude between 250,000 to 300,000 total units moved after months and months. Nobodys checking for Nelly, period!

    Nellys career, RIP!

  • jr

    Nelly`s time has been up for years.It`s like Rakim once said the average rap star has a career of four to five years before their popularity starts waning. Nelly`s popularity has noticeably faded since 2004`s Sweat/Suit.
    But lest we forget Nelly still has money.Country Grammar is one of the highest selling records in hip hop history.If he`s smart about how he manages his money he and his family won`t ever have to worry about money again.Nelly was out of the public eye for far too long,audiences today are fickle.
    Especially the hip hop audience.He has to stay consistent and in their faces like Lil Wayne.

  • The Messiah

    Loved Country Grammar! Didnt rock wit him so much after that but always respected his style. Needless to say it’s been a wrap for Nells since the Eagle song and that hideous chain lol… Seriously though, everybody has a time, and it’s sad when it happens to someone you like, but unless he totally re-invents himself you can pretty much plan the funeral any day now.

  • Bobo D

    When Fergie muders you on your own track, you’re just begging for your career to end.

  • http://youtube.com/blakkfeet Rosco

    he actually has 4 singles…..”Stepped on my J’s” which iz doin pretty good on youtube 106 Park and all dat. IDK about radio cuz i dunn lissin to the radio. But yea he gon flop. i hate to admit it…

  • la

    he should of had released cut it out instead of all those slow jams
    Ft. sean p. of the youngbloodz and Pimp C.
    that would of have probably done it to get that album out instead of wadsyaname

  • laShawn

    agree wit the 1st comment. but also its not only nelly whos career is over, hiphop in general has been over for a while now. nelly was ONE of the very few ‘rappers’ who could come up with ‘radio friendly’ tracks and score bigggggg. fabolous might be another. now anyone and everyone that can come up with some form of music is coming out and fighting for a piece of that music industry pie. hiphop is dead im only 18 but when i think of the future it looks vurrrry sad. no snoop, nas, jay, 50, nelly, outkast, wu-tang, cube, dmx, xzibit, dre, black star, game etc etc.. sad times

    • Phil

      Now that’s just being way too negative for no reason, lol. There are still many, many artists who are still devoted to their fanbases and can produce fantastic music. Who’s NOT looking forward to a new Andre 3000 album? Hip-Hop dead? Naw. Your outlook dead? I guess so.

  • Tonni

    First of I am a BIG NELLY FAN until end. And if everyone has been reading the recent articles about from different mags. you will know the reason he take four years. During his tour for Sweat and Suit his big sister died and his grandfather a couple months after her. And then him and the record label had something that they needed to iron out. He took the time to get his business and personal life together. He is still haven’t gotten over his sister death.

  • Phil

    Also, if Hip-Hop is really and truly “dead”, then I guess those 2 million people who bought Wayne’s album are just figments of all our imaginations, lol. Please.

  • S1

    he better call Pharrell…

  • droopey

    He needs to release ‘Long Night’ that will tear shit up.

  • http://foshiggadale,blogspot.com Foshiggadale

    I wrote about this on my blog last week…….he’s way past 4 singles from where i’m sitting, he also put out that god-awful JD/Ciara Jordans song, that joint with Sean Paul & Pimp C, and whatever song it was where he rapped as E-40, Too Short and Spice 1

  • gutta

    i saw this coming…maybe not in 2008 but i was waiting for it to go down eventually. he paid, been paid to the point where he probably doesnt care about making music and why should he?. he gets money away from music and he probably knows he cant keep up, hence the long lay off. when an artist doesnt progress with his music, its usually because his mind his not on music(ashanti) so now that his joint is comin out its gonna flop sorry. hes gotten away wit the bs long enough anyway.

  • gutta

    i saw this coming…maybe not in 2008 but i was waiting for it to go down eventually. he paid, been paid to the point where he probably doesnt care about making music and why should he?. he gets money away from music and he probably knows he cant keep up, hence the long lay off. when an artist doesnt progress with his music, its usually because his mind his not on music(ashanti) so now that his joint is comin out its gonna flop sorry. hes gotten away wit the bs long enough anyway.

  • krock

    yea i co sign this blog, never liked nelly even when he first came out and niggaz was like yo this is hot, I was more or less sayin this isnt real hip-hop, its more fun-hop. Never bought any of his albums, and we all know he isnt going platinum

  • whats CraCCin

    who the fuCC Cares?

  • Jack

    he’s having an identity crisis he can regain not the top spot but at least a higher spot then he has now if he really just takes a giant step outside the box on his next attempt.

  • mc

    nelly is good he got alot of money so if his album flop he won’t be hurting like beanie sigel
    freeway,jada kiss and other other non relevant rappers

  • http://www.xxlmag.com Benicio Del Thoro

    If you’re a guy, and you like Nelly then just kill yourself.

    That St. Lunatics album was a banger none the less.

  • MARK

    SHIT IN THE WORDS OF SOULJA BOY “TIMES DONE CHANGED, ITS NEW NIGGAS OUT NOW”
    IONO I THINK THE KEY TO REMAINING RELEVANT IS REINVENTING YOURSELF..I DON’T THINK HIM OR 50 ARE CAPABLE OF THIS SO 2008 JUS MAY B IT 4 UM..O WELL IF U LET TIME PASS, DON’T EXPECT TO GET IT BACK..SORRY.

  • davante

    nigga focus just changed. he probably investing his money, plus he wants to be a superstar you can hear it in his voice and see it in his face (steriod face ass guy)

  • http://myspace.com/sheri_amour Sheri

    i agree with almost everyone on this site.

    1. he’s been gone for too long.

    2. he hasn’t progressed as an artist, “step on my j’s” is basically the same as “air force ones” which came out i don’t know how many years ago.

    it’s sad, he’s trying, he really is, i used to like nelly’s music, but he’s really not interesting anymore. nothing about him stands out, he’s making the same music he made years ago, he should step out the box a lil’…..

  • niggafrommemphis

    what grown man makes a song called “You done stepped on my j’s ” and grills and running credit cards up bitches asses and shit.if that’s all 30 year old niggas like nelly (and let’s not even comment on that fake kingpen down in florida that just got exposed) have to offer,don’t get mad at these soulja boys and shit,look who came before their ignorant asses.some older ignorant asses.if you want to get paid in this rap game,do like some of these niggas i’ve mentioned above,let the educated rich white dude in a suit tell u how to portray yourself.

  • devils

    he should just sit on his millions and retire/take a more business oriented role

  • Tony Grand$

    At least dude can say that he started a lot of the trends. That nigga broke quite a few molds when he hit the scene. We mightve hated a lil bit, but he did do his thing. Now the crust of the industry is dressing funny, bouncin around all sing-songy, poppin and snappin, and we have Nelly to thank (or blame) for that metamorphisis. However, nuttin lasts forever and I believe he was business savvy enuff to plan for this moment in his disipating career. That nigga prolly aint trippin on us nigs though, that’s y homie went all out with the muscles. He like a modern day LL. Teenage girl sex appeal never goes away. Ill bet he got a trick or 2 still left under his sleeve. He should link up with Ja Rule or sumn! “Where all my 16 year olds @?”

  • http://www.myspace.com/producerjamesmoore producer James Moore

    Whadsyaname was garbage, ruined one of my favorite songs (K-Ci & JoJo – All My Life), Stepped On My J’s is corny as hell as far as the execution but its a good concept and its relatable and its probably gonna be a big record in the hood, and I appreciate them putting effort into making music that breaks up the monotony, and Body On Me isn’t too bad, the hook is the best part, but did you see Ashanti’s “Good Good” video? damn

  • bennieblancoh


    Will hip-hop miss Nelly? Didn’t think so… You’ve got more than enough ringtone and sing song rap going on as is. Whether duke had a 5 month lay off or a 5 year lay off… you can’t stay in the same lane and expect to push numbers. You have to show some sort of growth and creativity. I’ve never been a fan, nor a hater. I thought that “Country Grammar” and all the likes were ass. He capitalized on being from a different region and a style that was not dominant at the time. Then he rode the coat tails of the Neptunes and their hooks. Your time comes, your time goes. All you can do is gracefully bow out.

  • Vicious Seiger

    Nelly isn’t washed up but his choice of songs to make are. Nellz and Shanti made some certified garbage together with a single called Switch that didn’t even make it to her album [Which was also a major letdown?]. Then they’re doing again with Akon. I’m sorry but every couple doesn’t make beautiful music together and when they do – do it doesn’t mean you want to hear them do again ASAP. He’s never been one of those rappers that you expect him to blow you away with his lyrics but he’s like that popular guy in high school that everybody likes just because. He’s the guy when you invite him to a party he gonna have a ball no matter what. He’s a funny guy, the Magic Johnson of Rap meaning you like him, you respect him but outside his lane you don’t expect much from him [Lyrically or otherwise in Nelly's case]. He never really blows you away with anything. How many of us can say any of his albums are hip hop classics? They’re good but they’re not shaking the earth beneath you. Now Nelly has been out of the game for awhile and his double album project left such a bad taste in his fans’ mouths that his label was smart enough to compact the best of both albums into a single release which was smart but sometimes it’s not that easy to step back in after such a length hiatus. Party People with him and Fergie didn’t make a ripple and I doubt this new song will either, I think he needs to cutback on all the pop guests on his next album and just get to crackin’ on making some real fire. Maybe if he HAS to do some collabos use Alicia Keys, Busta Rhymes, T.I., Ciara, Ne-Yo, Lyfe Jennings, Angie Stone, Rich Boy, Lloyd and regrettable I’ll even endorse using Chris Brown for a single [Sorry Weezy - You're everywhere already]. I’m surprised he hasn’t been able to tap into some of the producers of the moment to produce something more digestible than the radio filler he has as of late. Either way Nelly’s Career isn’t dead it’s just in neutral and stalling.

  • Shawty J

    First two comments hit the nail on the head. Nelly was one of the first rappers of the 2000s to come in with a pop rap style, now pop rap is so common he’s irrelevant. Not to mention how long it takes him to drop an album, I mean it’s been some years now, a lot of his fans may have moved on.
    I actually was a Nelly fan at one point, but not so much now, too much time has passed and I’ve moved on. Rappers should definitely make it a point to release albums 18-24 months apart to keep themselves relevant

  • http://xxlmag.com Philly215

    how can youll get mad at Nelly when he put a whole city on his back nobody gave a fuck about St.Louis untill Nelly got signed maybe there’s better rappers then him and there’s was some before him that was doing it locally in St.Louis but he opened the doors for St.Louis artist to get signed to majors

  • http://www.yahoo.com Dra$t-iQ Alkoholik

    the nigga done fallen off nobody wanna hear his gay-ass pop shit no mo.the nigga was hot way back in the early 2000′s but now his clones have been doin wat he did in em earlier years and so he sounds outdated and dumb and the nigga 30.

  • Laron

    Yea, the last time he had an album was 2004.He fell off and cant get back on.

  • http://myspace.com/marko4aoc Marko-V

    WOW! I didn’t know Nelly could generate so much conversation. I’m from the Lou and no one really talks bout dude that much til he throws a party or somethin. Hell, he don’t even sign autographs out here and stay in ATL now which is why he got JD producin so much of his music. Like I said, it’s just not his time now. he needs to show growth, probably wants too but is expected to put up those pop numbers like before so they not releasin them songs that push the envelope. He should just take his L then use his money, power and respect to build up Derrty ENT. how he wants to. Cuz he got a lot of talented people over there and nothin is bein released. the music biz is hella shady so I know its more than meets the eye.
    get at me:myspace.com/marko4aoc

  • mike

    Nelly always been wack, and he never was a lyricist. Never… For me, the hottest thing that he brought to hip hop, was that lil twang that people from St. Louis speak with. He put St.Louis’s accent on the map. That thurr. Make no mistake he is the only eye candy for the females, beside LL, Nelly got that, and that will always be worth some sales. But he is definitely on the decline, and the fact that he is a limited rapper, shit does not look good for Nelly. He’s rich for sure, but in money right now, not musical ideas. But trust me, if he even give a half ass stroke, the pussy will wake up for him, cause the women love that dude. They couldn’t give a fuck about homeboys lyrics.

  • South City

    As some have echoed, dude is havin’ an identity crisis. I’m from the Lou, so though my opinion is somewhat biased, I’m still analytical enough to sift through the bullshit.

    1. When Country Grammar, Free City, and Nellyville came out, they all sounded different from the music that was out then. Fresh beats, an untapped region, originality, and decent lyrics. That’s standing out in a crowd; being distinct.

    2. Nelly’s downfall came when he started primarily using southern beats. That shit won’t stand out. Anotha region was already doin’ it, and doin’ it quite well, why go from bein’ a trend setter to a follower? Them white dudes from Basement beats helped define that midwest/StL style. Going from that previously unheard of group of producers to the Jazzy Pha’s, and the JD’s of the world is basically what caused his downfall

    The only way I can see Nelly becomin’ viable again is by totally redefining himself. And by redefining, I mean having a producer that makes Nelly step out of his comfort zone; a Timbaland, Dre, hell, even a Kanye.

    But I honestly don’t believe dude has the heart for it, so he’ll probably just finish out his career wallowing in mediocrity and swimmin’ in his Applebottom gaup.

  • mdot12

    i was never a huge fan of nelly, but i will say that as big a star he is, it is shocking to see that universal’s released so many singles off his album and not one of them has been a smash. his album’s been pushed back like 87 times. i don’t know if i’ve ever seen that with a star of nelly’s caliber unless they purposely do it because they don’t feel the album is perfect yet or something. it’s his label that’s doing this tho. does that mean he’s done? i don’t know, but i could see how people could get tired of him. i like some of his songs, but i never really considered him a great rapper. i almost don’t consider him a rapper cause he’s always singing. that might be the problem people have with him. the whole sing-song thing was his lane for a while but like a lot of trends in rap, it gets played out. even the whole t-pain auto-tune thing is getting old. if he could just rap for the duration of an album instead of harmonizing all the time people would take him more seriously. he’ll debut in the top 10, but nas and ice cube did that (i’m not hatin cause those are 2 of my favorite rappers. i’m just making the point that they’re not nearly as popluar as nelly)