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Nelly is an American rapper, singer, and actor. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and embarked on his musical career in 1993 as a member of the Midwest hip hop group St. Lunatics. He signed with Universal Records in 1999 as a solo act to release his debut studio album, Country Grammar (2000) in June of the following year. Its namesake lead single and follow-up, "Ride wit Me" (featuring City Spud) both entered the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, while the album peaked atop the Billboard 200 and received diamond certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His second album, Nellyville (2002) spawned two consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, "Hot in Herre" and "Dilemma" (featuring Kelly Rowland), along with the top-five single, "Air Force Ones" (featuring Murphy Lee and St. Lunatics). The same-day dual release of his next albums Sweat and Suit (2004)—bundled into compilation album Sweatsuit (2005)—promptly continued his success; Sweat debuted at number two while Suit debuted at number one, selling an estimated 700,000 combined units in their first week. His fifth studio album, Brass Knuckles (2008) was supported by the singles "Party People" (featuring Fergie), "Stepped on My J'z" (featuring Jermaine Dupri and Ciara) and "Body on Me" (featuring Akon and Ashanti). His sixth album, 5.0 (2010), delved further into pop; its lead single, "Just a Dream" received triple platinum certification by the RIAA and was followed by "Move That Body" (featuring T-Pain and Akon) and "Gone" (featuring Kelly Rowland). His seventh and eighth albums, M.O. (2013) and Heartland (2021) were met with moderate to lukewarm commercial response and mixed reviews—the latter was released by Columbia Records and marked a full departure from his previous styles in favor of country rap. Nelly has won multiple accolades throughout his career, including three Grammy Awards and nine Billboard Music Awards. He has been referred to by Peter Shapiro as "one of the biggest stars of the new millennium", and in 2014, Nelly was ranked as the fourth-best-selling hip hop artist in American music history according to the RIAA, with 21 million albums sold in the United States. In December 2009, Billboard ranked Nelly at number three on the Top Artists of the Decade list for the 2000s. Outside of recording, he starred in the 2005 sports film, The Longest Yard alongside Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. He launched the clothing line Vokal in 1997 and the line of womenswear, Apple Bottoms in 2003. His record label imprint, Derrty Entertainment was launched as a joint venture with Motown also in the latter year, although it has been largely inactive.
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