Nelly Claims He Broke Through During “The Hardest Era” Of Hip-Hop

It wouldn’t be a day that ends in “y” without an intergenerational Hip-Hop discussion that could spark debate. Nelly recently claimed that he broke through as an artist in the genre’s “hardest era.”

The St. Louis legend appeared on a recent episode of LeBron James’ The Shop and discussed challenges he faced despite being successful by all measures. “Country Grammar sold five million and I didn’t even get nominated as Best New Artist!” he exclaimed.

The “Dilemma” artist acknowledged that he fell out of the eligibility period and gave the 2001 winner Alicia Keys her props, but visibly, he was conflicted about how he didn’t get the nod. He continued, discussing the other artists he had to compete with.

“When I put out songs, I had to go against DMX, JAY-Z, Eminem, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, [Ludacris],” Nelly asserted. “All of us are fighting for one spot! So from ’99 to 2008-2010, it’s the hardest era ever to get records.”

His comments arrived shortly after T.I. and Shaquille O’Neal had a conversation where they compared the current eras of Hip-Hop and the NBA. While Shaq was focused on a lack of respect for older artists by those following them, the Atlanta rapper spoke more to the accessibility.

“I feel that, actually, what they’ve done with music is equivalent to if they were to open up the doors of the arena and say, ‘Anybody think you can play basketball? Come on out the stands out here to the floor. Here go you a jersey, man. Get in the game,’” TIP said.

Nelly clearly isn’t alone in his thoughts, but his hard work yielded him much success in music and romantically. He recently rekindled his relationship with Ashanti, whom he dated from 2003 to 2013.

“We cool again,” he said in a September interview with Boss Moves. “I think it surprised both of us, though. It wasn’t anything that was, like, I don’t think planned. I think we both was pretty much doing what we do. But sometimes being separate, you understand one another more.”

In December, US Weekly reported that the reformed couple had a baby on the way.

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