Nelly says new ‘Heartland’ album is a enjoy letter to country music’s ‘last frontier’

Nelly is embarking on a state new music journey that for a lot of a long time he understood was an avenue he longed to check out, but simply just never ever jumped ideal into out of respect for the genre as a full.

The St. Louis rapper and “Actual Husbands of Hollywood” actor, 46, who sharpened his irons in the realm of hip-hop and pop smashes, dipped his toes into country audio way back again in 2004. At the time, he enlisted a person of its cornerstones, Tim McGraw, to croon the hook on “Above and Above,” a report that went on to arrive at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Born Cornell Haynes Jr, Nelly quipped to Fox Information he wasn’t at all certain how the country legend would respond to remaining questioned to hop on a relaxing pop and R&B tune sung by an emcee who wished to try out his hand at a diverse sound than what he was used to. The concoction of smooth serenading from Nelly mixed with McGraw’s rustic tone proved to be a recipe that some 17 years later on, several fans of pop-era region new music would appreciate to enjoy.

Insert “Heartland,” Nelly’s initial album in eight yrs, which he describes as “country-motivated.” The report will have the familiar seems of blues, R&B and hip-hop –  but with a modern-day state twist thanks to a roster of characteristics from the likes of Kane Brown, Darius Rucker, Blanco Brown, Breland and Florida Ga Line (FGL).

As FGL followers know, the nation duo and Nelly collaborated on the remix of “Cruise,” which peaked at No. 4 on the chart. 


“My electricity for this venture arrives from a location of showing my appreciation that the region entire world has demonstrated Nelly given that I have appear into music, period,” he said. “At any time considering the fact that I dropped ‘Country Grammar,’ I was acquiring booked at places exactly where a single day it may possibly be someone like Tim McGraw headlining and then I fly to one more city and it is freaking DMX headlining, you know what I mean? I hadn’t even completed Tim McGraw ‘Over and Over’ still. I hadn’t even carried out that.”

“Like we had been receiving booked – we were accomplishing demonstrates at rodeos, region festivals and items like that. And it was just remarkable,” he ongoing. “It was just like, ‘Wow – I get it now, I’m setting up to see matters.’ And this album was fundamentally devoted to the full nation world in the feeling of I genuinely recognize all the electrical power that the state lovers, the place artists, country radio, nation entire world has specified Nelly.”

In addition to “Heartland,” Nelly spoke about how he obtained his musical get started, state audio as a entire and far more. 

Fox News: It truly is been 8 several years since your previous album. What was the dynamic like when you’re laying down these data with the likes of Kane Brown, Blanco Brown and Darius Rucker?

Nelly: You know, we just go into it. I do not think you are likely into it expressing that I am going to do this style of songs. The only time that I variety of appeared and really feel like I’m likely to get in a sure method is if I’m composing for someone else mainly because I know that that artist is in a genre. 

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Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line and Nelly, center, take photos with their Platinum Single for ‘LilBit’ during CMT Crossroads: Nelly & Friends at The Factory At Franklin on September 01, 2021 in Franklin, Tenn. 

Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Ga Line and Nelly, heart, acquire photos with their Platinum One for ‘LilBit’ in the course of CMT Crossroads: Nelly &amp Friends at The Manufacturing unit At Franklin on September 01, 2021 in Franklin, Tenn. 
(Jason Davis/Getty Visuals for CMT)

If I’m creating for an R&B artist, then I would ordinarily test to be cognizant of it but what I have also located is that fantastic lyrics transcend. So, you know, 9 times out of ten, the only factor that is distinctive is the beat – the tempo and the sounds and selected points that you use in that beat – which I have discovered from one particular of the greatest writers, if not one of the biggest songwriters of all time, Lionel Richie, which is how I got turned on to country songs. I received turned on to place music, via Lionel Richie – by any individual who was not even place. 

Due to the fact my uncles and my father and them – my uncle truly, he was the a person that got me into music in the starting. And he acquired me into music singing old Jackson 5 records and matters like that. And my uncle employed to feel he was Lionel Richie. He was a enormous Commodores admirer – he had the hair, he sang like Lionel, he made use of to engage in the keyboard and points like that. And he turned me on to all things Lionel Richie and he manufactured it a position that I comprehended not just what that guy was doing, manufacturing and currently being an artist, but his pen and wherever his pen was likely with. 

“If you hear to some of the renditions of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – you’ve obtained Marvin Gaye’s, Dolly Parton’s and you’ve received Whitney Houston’s. All of these are the identical words…different vibes.”

— Nelly

That is how I bought turned on to Kenny Rogers and ‘Lady’ and data like that. And then, you start out digging a tiny deeper. So I am a organization believer that if you know how to create a music, you know how to generate a tune. Now, becoming able to place the track in distinct formats and contexts and genres of new music is much more about the production. It truly is extra about the creation, per se than the lyrics, due to the fact as time and as songs has revealed, you can very a lot consider the lyrics and just switch [the] conquer, and tunes can go from Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Usually Like You’ to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Usually Love You’ and individuals are two distinct tracks – but it truly is nevertheless the same tune.

Kane Brown, right, is featured on Nelly's new ‘country-influenced’ album, ‘Heartland.’ 

Kane Brown, right, is featured on Nelly’s new ‘country-influenced’ album, ‘Heartland.’ 
(Jason Davis / Getty for CMT)

If you listen to some of the renditions of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ – you have obtained Marvin Gaye’s ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ you’ve received Dolly Parton’s ‘Star-Spangled Banner,’ you have obtained Whitney Houston’s version. Now, all of these are the exact phrases, but they audio so distinctive and have this sort of a distinctive vibe from a single a further – even if you pay attention to Marvin Gaye, the one that he sang, I feel it was at the ’82 or ’83 all-star recreation and he killed it and it was so R&B, it was so soulful. Like, it was amazing. And then you received Whitney Houston, who in all probability nobody has ever sung ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ improved than Whitney Houston has – I have yet to see it, bro. It’s just distinct.

Fox Information: It appears to be like the feature placements on your album are intentional. Does possessing so quite a few set up Black nation songs artists on a person album catapult the genre in a way that we have in no way witnessed ahead of with other genres in several years previous?


Nelly: I necessarily mean, state tunes is the past frontier as significantly as it really is the very last musical frontier of range — of equal diversity in a sense. Naturally, we have experienced some brothers who were being in a position to break through, and we lost the OG Charley Satisfaction – the legend. And I cannot even think about – I am so bummed that I failed to get the probability to holler at him and just speak to him and just inquire him queries about what it was like accomplishing this audio at that time.  And about some of the backlash and likely a lot of the racism he faced just undertaking the songs that is in his coronary heart, executing one thing that he cherished executing a thing that he has just as considerably proper to do as any one else. 

“I was a lot more nervous asking Darius Rucker [for a feature] than I was asking Tim McGraw [for ‘Over and Over’] at that time.

— Nelly

So, yeah, it was a small bit of an intentional act to make positive that I acquired a whole lot of these brothers that are in this lane, that if I was likely to walk this route, I wanted to stroll in with some people today that was just as much and I do not want to say just as a great deal as one thing to lose, but far more so more to attain from owning a job like this be prosperous. We appear to Darius [Rucker], he is the OG for all of us. That is like if comedy was going on and Richard Pryor was nonetheless alive, he would be the OG for most people in comedy – like which is how we search at Darius ideal now. 

Breland, Nelly and Blanco Brown perform on the set of their new single music video shoot with Breland and Blanco Brown on July 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Breland, Nelly and Blanco Brown perform on the set of their new one tunes video clip shoot with Breland and Blanco Brown on July 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, Calif.
(Image by Prosperous Fury/Getty Images)

We all like Darius. It can be not a brother who – and I’m not just stating in place audio – I indicate if you are in songs, interval, and you recognize what Darius Rucker is performing, you appear up to him. I signify I have been a enthusiast of his considering the fact that Hootie [and the Blowfish], you know. And you get an opportunity to work with them suitable now and to have him – I just put a person simply call to him and I was nervous about inquiring him and I ain’t by no means been nervous about inquiring for something. I was additional nervous asking him than I was inquiring Tim McGraw at that time.

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Fox Information: In state new music, rap new music, pop, whatever genre – the tales are really what people today gravitate in direction of. What are some of your most tender tales that you experienced to place on wax for the reason that men and women essential to listen to it in new music variety?

Nelly: Well, I mean, just all of my tales interval if something – even if you listen to ‘Five Beverages Ago,’ you know what I imply? That’s some thing which is extremely explainable in the title. You know, it can be just one particular of those people scenarios the place if you have ever broken up with somebody, you are not genuinely tripping off of them. You aren’t having to pay them any intellect – you might be going on about your way. 

And then all of a sudden, it can be one thing that will make you just get started tripping off them or now you are contemplating about them. And it truly is usually, you know, correct right after that fifth drink. [Laughs] 

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And it was just like, ‘Yo, I was interesting right until I had this fifth drink and now I’m all on your Instagram webpage and I’m flipping through’ and you might be just remembering specified occasions – and I just consider that is it. It can be not a precise tale as opposed to a whole lot of distinct incidents running collectively into the tune. I ran into your mama – your mama claimed I really should contact you. I ain’t contacting her a–! It is just one of individuals predicaments that you happen to be just like, ‘Yeah, yeah. Alright. They could have stopped me from drinking – the bartender knew I was likely as well tricky. He could have reported a thing.’ [Laughing].

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