Plus, Nelly talks about working with Chris Brown and reflects on the timeless-ness of his 2002 hit ‘Hot In Heere.’
Nelly may have been laying low in recent years, but he’s back in the spotlight — in a big way. Not only is he preparing to release his seventh studio album, M.O., but he’s also a mentor on The CW’s new reality singing competition series The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep. HollywoodLife.com chatted with the St. Lunatic about his new sound, as well as his “dope” (and totally top secret) plans with Joe Jonas — that may or may not involve sparkly boxers.
Read on for my full interview with Nelly:
Thanks for talking, I know you’re really busy. What are you doing on the road now?
You know, just doing promotion for the album and the new song with Chris Brown. It’s a beautiful thing.
How was it working with Chris?
He’s cool. The song is “Marry Go Round,” and it’s great. Shout out to Chris!
You’ve obviously had — and continue to have — a successful career in music. What made you decide to become a ‘Next’ mentor?
When I heard about the type of contestants that were going to be on the show. I’m not against all the other music shows, but I’m one of those artists that had to grind … and a lot of these people have already laid ground for themselves. They’ve been putting out independent music, have millions of views online, and may be local heroes from all over. They’ve already gotten their feet wet. But on the other shows, one day someone sings, and the next day they’re a star. It kind of frowns upon on the guy who’s been doing it for five years and is just looking for his big break. This show actually reward the people who are willing to put in the work.
Is that why you think so many winners from other shows disappear shortly after winning?
I definitely think that. It’s almost like, ‘OK, where did you come from?’ … I’d been doing [music for] nine years before I even got a deal. I wish I could have said, ‘I want to start rapping. Oh, someone’s holding auditions for a show!’ Like, really? What were you doing yesterday? ‘Well, not music. I was basically selling sneakers, then decided I wanted to rap.’
All four of the mentors — you, John Rich, Joe Jonas and Gloria Estefan — are so different. How’s the chemistry?
It’s a great cast, man. You never know what to expect when you go into a situation like that. You don’t know everyone personally. Sure, we’ve all met in the business circle, but when you get a chance to kick it with people and understand how they think outside of music, you never know how that’s going to go. But this has been great. Joe’s a great kid, John Rich is like Boss Hog, and Gloria is just adorable. Gloria probably surprised me the most, definitely. You never know how those divas are going to be, and if anyone deserves to be a diva, it’s a Gloria Estefan. Like, what hasn’t she done?
Would you consider collaborating musically with any of them?
We’ve all talked about doing things together musically; like, if we can help each other, don’t be afraid to ask. You never know what’s going on. Actually, me and Joe may have a great surprise coming up later on that could possibly be announced later on this year. That could be dope.
I don’t suppose it has anything to do with Joe’s sparkly boxers he shows off.
[Laughs] No, that’s all him, man. I let him do his own thing. I ain’t into his boxers.
You performed ‘Hot in Herre’ on the first episode and everyone — even the younger kids — were singing along. How do you feel knowing your music is becoming timeless?
I don’t want to sound like that, but I think that’s the mark of being a true artist and making great music. It stands the test of time. A great song now is a great song then, and vice versa. I feel really privileged that my music transcends different generations.
Since this show is all about finding the next big superstar, are there any up-and-comers you consider the next big thing?
I love my man 2 Chainz. There are no rappers on The Next, but if there was, he would personify what they would be like. He’s someone who laid groundwork for himself for many years, and now he’s getting the opportunity to display his skills. Everybody’s starting to accept him, and he deserves it.
— Andy Swift
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