Though St. Louis might not be the epicenter of the Midwestern rap scene (that honor would arguably go to Chicago, home to Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and Eminem), Nelly has proven time and time again that the Gateway City isn't to be taken lightly. With four albums and nine top ten hits to his name, the melodic and playful Nelly is easily St. Louis' most visible rapper. He rose to prominence in the early 1990's as a member of the rap collective St. Lunatics (Ali, Murphy Lee), scoring a solo deal with Universal records in 1999.

Nelly's freshman release Country Grammar (2000) took the world by storm, spearheaded by the uncannily catchy single "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)", which features a melodic and almost nonsensical chorus set to the tune of "Roller Coaster", a children's handclap song. Other notable tracks from Country Grammar include "Ride wit Me" and "Batter Up", which both charted in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album has since sold a staggering 14.8 million units worldwide - not bad for his first try.

Eager to follow up the success of his debut album, Nelly released his second record Nellyville two years later in 2002. Though the album didn't sell quite as well as his first, it was far from a sophomore slump: to date, it has sold a more-than-modest 11.6 million copies. Hits from Nellyville include "Number 1", "Hot in Herre", "Dilemma", and "Work It", which features an appearance by Justin Timberlake.

For his next release Nelly wanted to experiment with R&B, but didn't want to abandon his rap roots; as a compromise to his fans, Nelly recorded two separate albums that were simultaneously released in 2004 - Sweat and Suit. While Sweat was a rap album in the same vein as his earlier work, Suit went off in a slick, groovy R&B direction. Suit and Sweat rose to the 1st and 2nd slots, respectively, of the Billboard 200 the week of their release, making Nelly one of only a handful recording artists to ever cinch the top two spots simultaneously. Sweat and Suit produced a number of hits, including "Flap Your Wings", "My Place", and "Over and Over", a balladic crossover single featuring country superstar Tim McGraw.

Nelly plans to release a fifth album, Brass Knuckles, in late 2008. The album is rumored to be his most diverse release yet, with Akon, Fergie, Mariah Carey, and Bruce Springsteen all scheduled to make an appearance. Two singles from Brass Knuckles have already been released, "Wadsyaname" and "Party People".

From Discogs:

American rapper born on November 2, 1978 in Austin, Texas, and raised in St. Louis, Missouri.

From Lastfm:

Cornell Iral Haynes, Jr. (born November 2, 1974 in St. Louis, Missouri), better known by his stage name Nelly, is an American rapper, singer, actor and entrepreneur signed to Universal and Derrty Records. He has been active since 1993 as a bandmate of the rap group St. Lunatics, and became a hip-hop superstar after the success of his solo release, Country Grammar, in 2000. The album peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200, spawned multiple chart toppers and won three Grammy awards.

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From Wikipedia:

Cornell Iral Haynes, Jr. (born November 2, 1974), better known by his stage name Nelly, is an American Grammy Award-winning hip hop recording artist, entrepreneur and occasional actor from St. Louis, Missouri. He has performed with Southern hip hop group St. Lunatics since 1993 and signed to Universal Records in 1999. Under Universal, Nelly began his solo career in 2000 with his debut album Country Grammar, the title track of which was a top ten hit. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and went on to peak at number one. Country Grammar is Nelly's best-selling album to date, selling over 8.4 million copies in the United States. His following album, Nellyville, produced the number-one hits "Hot in Herre" and "Dilemma" (featuring Kelly Rowland). Other singles included "Work It" (featuring Justin Timberlake), "Air Force Ones" (featuring Murphy Lee and St. Lunatics), "Pimp Juice" and "#1".

With the same-day dual release Sweat and Suit (2004) and the compilation Sweatsuit (2006), Nelly continued to generate many chart-topping hits. Sweat debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 342,000 copies in its first week. On the same week of release, Suit debuted at number one, selling around 396,000 copies in its first week on the same chart. Nelly's fifth studio album, Brass Knuckles, was released on September 16, 2008, after several delays. It produced the singles "Party People" (featuring Fergie), "Stepped on My J'z" (featuring Jermaine Dupri and Ciara) and "Body on Me" (featuring Akon and Ashanti). In 2010, Nelly released the album 5.0. The lead single, "Just a Dream", has appeared in the top ten of several singles charts and were certified platinum in the United States. The second single is "Move That Body" (featuring T-Pain and Akon). "Gone" is the sequel to Nelly's 2002 worldwide number one single "Dilemma", also with Rowland, and serves as third single from Nelly's album.

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