Born in Austin, Texas in 1974, Nelly grew up in St Louis, and formed his first rap group in high school. The group, St Lunatics, even had some success locally with their 1996 single ‘Gimme What You Got’ – but it wasn’t until Nelly went solo that he started to get serious industry attention.
Eventually signed by Universal, Nelly’s first album ‘Country Grammar’ was released in 2000 – and went nine times platinum, reaching No.1 in the album charts.
Now that Nelly had made it big in his own right, he decided the time was right to bring the focus back to the St Lunatics. In 2001, the group released their own debut album ‘Free City’ – and buoyed by Nelly’s own success, it went platinum.
Nelly’s second solo album ‘Nellyville’ was released the year after – and that went six times platinum. The single ‘Hot in Here’ reached No.1, and won Nelly a Grammy Award in the process.
In 2004 Nelly released two albums at one time – Sweat (an album with an R&B feel), and Suit (full of more traditional rap music). On the week of their release, Suit topped the charts at No. 1, and was closely followed by Sweat at No. 2.
To date Nelly has released 9 successful studio albums – and also runs two clothing lines: Apple Bottom and Vokal. His charity, the 4Sho4Kids Foundation, aims to tackle some of the biggest health issues facing children today.
Nelly is one of the many stars to have appeared on World Series of Poker over the years – but his presence hasn’t always been such good news for the casino business.
Back in 2004 the ‘President Casino’ in St Louis faced a fine of up to $50,000 after reportedly allowing Nelly to bypass the state of Missouri’s rules during a birthday trip he made to the casino. In Missouri, gamblers must use an electronic ID system to keep them from withdrawing any more than $500 of chips every 2 hours. According to the Missouri gaming commission, staff at the casino were found to have actively helped Nelly and his entourage to bypass the system.
Nelly’s gambling also hit the headlines more recently. Back in 2011, a fallout with his one-time promoter ‘Slim’ led to claims on Twitter that his gambling debts had brought him close to bankruptcy. Nelly vehemently denied the claims.
Whatever the truth of the matter, we hope to be seeing Nelly and his gold tooth back on our screens in World Series of Poker soon.