Nelly reflects on the gritty of his era of hip-hop and call out Katt Williams for stealing JB Smoove jokes

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In a candid interview on LeBron James’ The Shop, rap icon Nelly opened up about his journey through the tumultuous landscape of hip hop. The St. Louis native, known for chart-topping hits like “Country Grammar” and “Hot In Herre,” revealed that his era was nothing short of a musical battleground. Let’s dive into the gritty details of Nelly’s era, where lyrical warriors clashed, and legends were born.

The gauntlet: Nelly vs. Titans

Nelly didn’t mince words when he declared,

"You gotta understand, my era of music was the toughest era in Hip Hop ever. Ever!” he declared. “When I put out songs, I had to go against DMX, JAY-Z, Eminem, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Luda. All of us are fighting for one spot! So from ’99 to 2008-2010, it’s the hardest era ever to get records."

Ever!” His claim isn’t hyperbole; it’s backed by the heavyweight contenders he faced:

  1. DMX: The growling intensity of DMX’s rhymes echoed through the streets, leaving an indelible mark on the genre.
  2. JAY-Z: The Brooklyn mogul, with his razor-sharp lyricism, ruled the charts and the boardrooms.
  3. Eminem: The Detroit wordsmith shattered records and stereotypes, proving that rap transcends boundaries.
  4. Lil Wayne: The New Orleans prodigy, with his prolific output, redefined mixtapes and mainstream success.
  5. 50 Cent: The Queens powerhouse, bulletproof and relentless, took the game by storm.
  6. Ludacris: Atlanta’s charismatic wordslinger, known for his playful yet potent verses.

These titans weren’t just competitors; they were gladiators vying for supremacy. Nelly’s hits had to elbow their way into the spotlight, battling for airplay, awards, and respect.

The Grammy snub

Nelly’s frustration spilled over when he recounted the Grammy snub. Despite selling a staggering five million copies of Country Grammar, he found himself absent from the Best New Artist category. Why? His album dropped in 2000, missing the ballot. Instead, Alicia Keys claimed the honor in 2001—a deserving winner, but Nelly felt the sting.

"Country Grammar sold five million and I didn’t even get nominated as Best New Artist! Because my album came out in 2000 so I wasn’t even on the ballot. In 2001, the great, talented, well-deserving Miss Alicia Keys won — and she should have won"

Katt Williams and JB Smoove: A comedy clash

But Nelly didn’t just throw punches at fellow rappers. He also called out comedian Katt Williams for allegedly swiping jokes from JB Smoove. In the comedy arena, battles raged too—punchlines as lethal as any rap verse. Nelly’s no-nonsense stance echoed the competitive spirit that defined his era.

The changing landscape

Nelly’s era was a pressure cooker. Artists dropped albums like grenades, hoping to explode onto the charts. But as time passed, the game shifted. Styles P, another rap veteran, lamented the waning competitiveness in today’s hip hop. The friendly sparring, the hunger for lyrical dominance—it’s not as prevalent. The triple-doubles have become doubles, and the gladiators now sip tea together.

Nelly’s legacy

Though Nelly’s output has slowed, his impact reverberates. Chance The Rapper once dubbed him

"the most important country star of our time."

And while Nelly may not wear a cowboy hat, his influence spans genres. Perhaps it’s time for a new era—one where artists challenge each other, drop triple-doubles, and keep the fire burning.