Diamond Selling, Multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning rap superstar, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and actor, Nelly, has continually raised the bar for the entertainment industry since stepping on the scene in 2000 with his distinctive vocals and larger-than-life personality. His collaboration with Florida Georgia Line received Diamond status and he is only one of seven rappers to reach this honor. He is touring around the globe and recently was the first artist to play in Saudi Arabia with a mixed gender/family crowd. He is the first hip hop artist to play with multiple symphonies nationwide and played himself in BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood with Kevin Hart. His sports knowledge and love of all sports secured him a gig as a sports caster with Skip Bayless.
Nelly embarked on his music career with Midwest hip hop group St. Lunatics, in 1993 and signed to Universal Records in 1999. Nelly entered the spotlight with the release of Country Grammar in 2000, spending seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawning the massive hits “Ride Wit Me”, “Country Grammar”, and “E.I.”. The album landed Nelly four Grammy Award nominations and sold over nine million copies worldwide. Country Grammar is Nelly’s best-selling album to date, selling over 8.4 million copies in the United States.
Nelly also has strong philanthropic ties. In 2003, he and his late sister Jackie Donahue launched the Jes Us 4 Jackie Foundation. Upon Jackie’s diagnosis with leukemia, they aimed to educate and spread awareness about the need for bone marrow and stem cell transplant donations as well as attract more donors. His greatest philanthropic achievement is that he hosted the largest African American bone marrow drive to date. Sadly, Donahue passed away in 2005, but Nelly continues to use his influence to raise awareness. In 2010, Nelly endorsed Do Something’s Tackle Hunger campaign. In a public service announcement, he filmed for the cause, Nelly challenged teens to fight hunger by collecting one million pounds of food for the holiday season. Currently he supports Make a Wish and is the only rapper/music artist to own his own college, EI University, which provides education surrounding the music industry while Nelly himself provides scholarships. In 2011, Nelly and Vatterott College worked together to found the Ex’treme Institute by Nelly, which is a music production school in the heart of St. Louis.