I sat down with Nelly at the “The Return of Mike and Ike” May 8th VIP Screening event at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City to talk to the star about his love for Mike and Ike candy, his new album, M.O., and more.
Nelly went back to the fun of things for his fourth coming album. He said it reminds him of how he went in the studio to record his breakout album, Country Grammar, which debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and went on to peak at number one. “With Country Grammar it was all about fun, I didn’t expect anything from it,” Nelly said. “I was just having a good time.” Nelly went in the studio for M.O. with the same zest and said that he wants his fans to have fun with this album.
The Grammy Award winning artist revealed to me exclusively which artist’s fans can expect to be featured on his upcoming album. Nelly also confirmed that M.O. is “97.7 percent finished,” but will be 100 percent once it hits shelves later this year.
“I will have the first ever Nelly and Nelly collaboration on this album,” Nelly told me. Which Nelly was he referring to? None other than Grammy Award winning artist Nelly Furtado! How exciting! Nelly’s album will also feature collaborations with Wiz Khalifa, T.I., Pharell Williams, and more.
As this is Nelly’s seventh studio album, he talked about how he has maintained a career in the rap industry. “Right now it’s about supply and demand, its like a sweat shop, and I thought to myself how do I try continue to do what I do as Nelly when there are so many other rappers doing what I been doing for years?”
Nelly said that he has always aspired to branch out from his foundation in hip-hop to explore other genres like country, pop, and R&B. “No one should just aspire to be a rapper,” he said, “ I wanted to be bigger than hip-hop, it is my love and foundation but your aspirations should always be bigger than what ever it is that you are doing.”
Nelly’s words of wisdom proved to work for his career. He continued to stay abreast with the times adopting social media into his everyday life as a means to continue to stay connected to his fans. “There is no avoiding it, either you follow the rules or get out the game,” Nelly said about the influence of social media in hip-hop. “Fans do not want to wait for that one-on-one connection with artists anymore…and they do not have to.”
Besides being a staple figure in the hip-hop industry Nelly took his own advice, as he is more than just a hip-hop artist. He is the founder of Apple Bottoms, devotes himself to his non-profit 4Sho4Kids Foundation, and Jes Us 4 Jackie, dedicated to his sister Jackie Donahue, who lost her battle with leukemia March 2003.
Nelly has yet to set a release a date for his fourth coming album, M.O. but he promises that fans will love what he has in store.