(Cornell Haynes, Jr.)
Nelly was born in Texas and lived the first three years of his life in Spain, where his father was stationed in the Air Force. The family eventually settled in St. Louis and the young Cornell Haynes was drawn to life on the streets. To keep him out of trouble his parents shifted him around to various relatives. His interests changed however, when, as a teenager, he moved with his mother to the nearby suburb Universal City. He began to develop an interest in rhyming and storytelling. A talented baseball player as well, he had offers to play professionally but opted to team up with schoolmates, Kyjuan, City Spud, Murphy Lee, Ali, and Jason to form the St. Lunatics. Their self-produced record, Gimme What Ya Got, released in 1996, was a regional hit but failed to win them a record deal. With no prospects in sight, the band agreed that Nelly should go it alone. Solo, Nelly was almost immediately signed by Universal Records who released Country Grammar, his debut solo album, in 2000. ?Hot in Herre? from the multiplatinum Nellyville (2002) won the Best Male Rap Solo Grammy. Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention came out in Nov. 2003 and in Sept. 2004, he released two albums simultaneously, Sweat and Suit.