Nelly's shocking us all lately. First, he was holding hands with on-off girlfriend Ashanti at T.I. and Tiny's Miami nuptials in July (To be fair, her rep was quick to point out they're "still friends."). Then, out of nowhere, he stormed the Billboard Top Ten singles chart with the surprisingly emotive "Just A Dream."
Usmagazine.com met up with the St. Louis superstar MC, 36, as he promoted his signature Apple Bottom Jeans at Macy's during NYC fashion week – and we were let in on even more surprises, like the only lady in his life now – his new album, Nelly 5.0 (due out November 16). Read on for the full details!
UsMagazine.com: So can you tell us a little bit about your new album that’s coming out?
Nelly: The new album, Nelly 5.0, is due out November 16. It stands for my fifth drop date. I'm excited, it's a little different, obviously. It's a more melodic album if anything. I came up with the title because if you know anything about Mustang 5.0, you know the classiness of it as far as the history behind it, and also the mystique. But the tradition behind it, that's what I thought I was bringing with this album -- more of a classic Nelly sound. I'm not saying this is a classic album because obviously that’s for the fans to decide.
US: Did you collaborate with anyone?
N: I reunited with Kelly Rowland again on a song called "Gone," which was produced by Jim Johnson who also produced The-Dream's last album. Also I did a song that was produced by Dr. Luke that features myself, T-Pain and Akon. It's a crazy dance track!
US: Do you have any favorite songs on the album?
N: They are all like my kids -- I love them all. They all put you in a certain mind and certain state, so it's not like one is better than the other. It's just one may influence you differently than another.
US: What was your inspiration for the album?
N: My inspiration for this album was basically geared inside me. I don't know how people say that. Some people like to call it 'the big comeback album' or redeeming yourself or something like that, which I don't understand because had 5 previous albums and I only had one not to sell 4 million records. (Laughs) so it's kind of hard to consider it a comeback, but it's a part of the game. It is what it is, and I'm not going to complain about it. I'm just going to work through it so whatever they want to call it however they want to see it, it's here now and I'm excited about it.
US: Do you think you've changed as an artist?
N: Definitely I think I've changed as a person. I've gone through so much. Even when I was doing "Brass Knuckles," I went through so much with losing my sister in ‘05, and six months later I lost my grandfather and a couple of months a go I lost my cousin. Two months after that, I lost my other grandfather, so you just go through so much. I'm not good with that type of emotion so I tend to engulf myself in work and engulf myself in trying to keep moving on so maybe it will fade away, but it never does. Again, I think it tends to motivate me. When I first came out, people doubted me in the same way. I think I work best when I'm "the underdog." I think it works for me because it worked for me in the very beginning, and I think it's working for me now.
US: Do you think the industry has changed at all?
N: The industry has drastically changed. The industry did a full 360, so it's like night and day now. It's a song selling industry; it's a single selling industry right now. You get so much money off your singles, and if you sell albums it's like a bonus. You got to play the game, the rules may change, the games are different, the players are different but if you want to be in the game you can’t complain about it. You have to adapt.
US: Did you think "Just a Dream" was going to be your big hit?
N: I didn't…but I loved it. Sometimes as an artist you think every song that you do is a smash. (Laughs) And that's just not the reality of it, but that's how you feel. Sometimes interpretation is misleading because it comes from a different point of view. I just felt the topic was universal -- the subject matter crosses all boundaries. Whether you are white, black, whatever ethnicity, male, female, adult, child, everyone has love, loss, and wishing to love again, whatever the case may be. So I thought it would do well. I didn't know it would do as well, as fast as it's doing, but it's got a fire underneath it, so that's good.
US: Can you tell Us a little bit about your collection for Macy's?
N: The whole look for the fall was more of an international travel vibe, so to speak, and it was definitely influenced by more of a European style. I'm trying to bring a little "umph" to the Apple but also keep it to where our core fans understand what we're doing and not stretch it too far. You always want to leave yourself some room to grow but also cater to what has allowed you to become successful so that's the tricky part. We're also trying to expand the license. We have several things from bedding to optical wear, shoes, and accessories. Now we're reaching out into makeup and things of that nature. And trust me it's about having good people behind you because obviously these aren't things I'm walking around in (laughs).
US: So how do you design things that are intended for women? Do you think, 'this is what I want my girl to wear'?
N: I'm not going to lie. (laughs) I may be out and I may see something that a girl has on and I'll be like 'Yo that's hot,' and I might snap a picture of it and send it to our head designer and ask her opinion. I try to give ideas but sometimes I'm over the top. (Laughs) I either think it can happen too soon or I wait too long.
US: So the big question is if you're dating anyone right now?
N: Oh man I’m dating something unbelievable. She is so sexy, she is a new girl, I've been dating her now for a couple of months... She's called 5.0 and we get married on November 16. You're all invited to the wedding! Anybody want to come?
US: Very funny! So you're living the single life?
N: Um…yeah. I'm single. I'm not married or anything like that. It's more about making sure 5.0 is where it needs to be.