By now the story of Grammy-winning, multiplatinum hip-hop superstar-actor-entrepreneur-philanthropist Nelly’s meteoric rise to stardom is a well-known, oft-recited part of hip-hop history. The standout member of the St. Louis rap collective the St. Lunatics inks a deal with Universal Motown Records, drops a sizzling single called “Country Grammar” with a familiar nursery rhyme hook, and follows it up with a debut album of the same name that spawns three humongous hits, spends seven weeks atop the Billboard 200 chart, scores three Grammy nominations, and sells an astonishing 9 million copies worldwide.
Much to the delight of the legions of fans that now rank him among hip-hop’s premier artists, Nelly charged onto the hip-hop scene in the summer of 2000 with his groundbreaking debut album, Country Grammar. Nelly also topped Billboard’s 2000 year-end chart as the Top Male Rap Artist, and he was nominated for two Source Awards, an MTV Video Music Award, two BET Awards, an American Music Award, and a Soul Train Music Award.
Born in Washington, D.C., Ginuwine fell under the spells of Prince & Michael Jackson as a child. By the time he was 12, the aspiring musician had started performing with a local hip-hop group, the Finesse Five. As time went on, he sang with another D.C. group, Physical Wonder, and even entertained folks as a nimble MJ imitator. In 1996, Ginuwine was discovered by Jodeci and, after traveling to New York City, met Timbaland, a then up-and-coming producer. Together they cut the edgy track "Pony," which lead to a deal with Sony Music.
His debut CD, Ginuwine…The Bachelor hit the streets in late '96 and "Pony" quickly became a #1 R&B and #6 pop chart/radio sensation. With his stylized dancing and creamy vocals, Ginuwine emerged as one of contemporary R&B's biggest rookies and also a major sex symbol.
In 1999, Ginuwine proved that lightning sometimes strikes twice with his second double-platinum LP, 100% Ginuwine, which entered the pop charts at #5. In 2001, Ginuwine dropped The Life, which, as he'd done previously, entered the charts in the Top 5 and went platinum-plus (to date, all four Ginuwine albums have achieved that prestigious mark). The set's second single, "Differences," triumphed as Ginuwine's biggest pop hit yet, hitting #4 on the Hot 100.