Nelly, the St. Louis-bred hip-hop juggernaut revered for No. 1 hits like ‘Grillz,’ ‘Hot in Herre,’ ‘Dilemma,’ and ‘Shake Ya Tailfeather,’ will release his widely-acclaimed debut album Country Grammar as a digital deluxe edition on July 24 via Republic/UMe.
Hailed upon release by Rolling Stone as “the best thing to come out of St. Louis since Redd Foxx,” by NME as the “album of the year so far,” and by People, who proclaimed that Nelly “marked his hometown of St. Louis as a major contender,” Country Grammar debuted at No. 3 on Billboard Top 200 and soon vaulted to No. 1. In 2016, the RIAA certified the album Diamond, selling more than 10 million copies to date, a feat which placed Nelly among rock superstars like Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Bruce Springsteen.
As a creative heavyweight from St. Louis during a time when most rappers were from the East Coast, the West Coast, or the South, Nelly’s breezy, twangy approach proved to be a breath of fresh air for the genre. When his debut single ‘Country Grammar (Hot S_t),’ which was hung on the children’s clapping game ‘Down Down Baby,’ was released in February 2000, became a smash hit and peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100, the foundation was laid for his blockbuster debut album to break into the mainstream.
The 20th anniversary edition of this landmark album will be released as a digital deluxe edition with bonus tracks ‘Icey,’ ‘Come Over,’ ‘Country Grammar (Instrumental),’ and ‘Ride Wit Me (Instrumental),’ all four of which have never been released digitally before. Whether revisited digitally or on wax, Country Grammar’s beloved hits, like ‘Ride Wit Me’ (No. 3) and the airwaves-conquering title track have dominated global culture for two decades. The album was produced by Jason ‘Jay E’ Epperson, who himself did a tremendous amount to craft the sound of 2000s Midwestern hip-hop.
Born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. in Austin, Texas, the rapper showed early promise, forming The St. Lunatics in 1993 with his childhood friends, MCs ‘Ali’ Jones, Torhi ‘Murphy Lee’ Harper, Lavell ‘City Spud’ Webb, and Robert ‘Kyjuan’ Cleveland. After Jay E workshopped the music with Nelly, they shopped for labels in New York and the rapper was signed to Universal Records in 1999. The pair drew deeply from the sounds that surrounded them in the Midwest — urban, country, hip-hop — and fused them into a fresh, infectious, unforgettably hooky whole.
Country Grammar’s evergreen appeal also stems from its astonishing array of guests, including Cedric the Entertainer on ‘Intro,’ Lil Wayne on ‘For My,’ The Teamsters on ‘Never Let ‘Em C U Sweat,’ and most or all of his trusty collaborators St. Lunatics on ‘Steal the Show,’ ‘Thicky Thick Girl’ and ‘Batter Up.’ The album went on to sell more than 9 million copies, making it the ninth best-selling rap album of all time in the U.S., and Billboard crowned it the 85th best album of all time on their Top 200 Albums of All Time list. It went on to be nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2000 Grammy Awards (along with its title track for Best Rap Solo Performance) and Nelly was crowned Best New Artist at the 2001 BET Awards.
Country Grammar digital deluxe edition is out on July 24 and can be pre-ordered here.
Country Grammar Track Listing (Digital Deluxe Edition)
1. St. Louie
2. Greed, Hate, Envy
3. Country Grammar (Hot ….)
4. Steal The Show
5. Ride Wit Me
7. Thicky Thick Girl
8. For My
9. Utha Side
10. Tho Dem Wrappas
11. Wrap Sumden
12. Batter Up
13. Never Let ‘Em C U Sweat
14. Luven Me
16. Come Over*
17. Country Grammar (Instrumental)*
18. Ride Wit Me (Instrumental)*
*previously unreleased digitally