Nelly releases 20th anniversary of ‘Country Grammar’ digitally

Digital deluxe edition drops July 24th

Nelly, the St. Louis-bred hip hop juggernaut revered for No. 1 hits like “Grillz,” “Hot in Herre,” “Dilemma,” and “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” will re-release his stone-classic debut album Country Grammar on July 24th via Republic/UMe. Hailed upon release by Rolling Stone as “the best thing to come out of St. Louis since Redd Foxx,” by NME as the “album of the year so far,” and by People, who proclaimed that Nelly “marked his hometown of St. Louis as a major contender,” Country Grammar debuted at No. 3 on the Top 200 and soon vaulted to No. 1. In 2016, the RIAA certified the album diamond, selling more than ten million copies to date, a feat which placed Nelly among rock superstars like Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Bruce Springsteen.

As a creative heavyweight from St. Louis during a time when most rappers were from the East Coast, the West Coast, or the South, Nelly’s breezy, twangy approach proved to be a breath of fresh air for the genre. When his debut single “Country Grammar (Hot Shit),” which was hung on the children’s clapping game “Down Down Baby,” was released in February 2000, became a smash hit and peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100, the foundation was laid for his blockbuster debut album to break into the mainstream.

The 20th anniversary edition of this landmark album will be released as a digital deluxe edition with bonus tracks “Icey,” “Come Over,” “Country Grammar (Instrumental),” and “Ride Wit Me (Instrumental),” all four of which have never been released digitally before. Whether revisited digitally or on wax, Country Grammar’s beloved hits, like “Ride Wit Me” (No. 3) and the airwaves-conquering title track have dominated global culture for two decades. The album was produced by Jason “Jay E” Epperson, who himself did a tremendous amount to craft the sound of 2000s Midwestern hip hop.

Born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. in Austin, Texas, the rapper showed early promise, forming The St. Lunatics in 1993 with his childhood friends, MCs “Ali” Jones, Torhi “Murphy Lee” Harper, Lavell “City Spud” Webb, and Robert “Kyjuan” Cleveland. After Jay E workshopped the music with Nelly, they shopped for labels in New York and the rapper was signed to Universal Records in 1999. The pair drew deeply from the sounds that surrounded them in the Midwest — urban, country, hip hop — and fused them into a fresh, infectious, unforgettably hooky whole.

Country Grammar’s evergreen appeal also stems from its astonishing array of guests, including Cedric the Entertainer on “Intro,” Lil Wayne on “For My,” The Teamsters on “Never Let ‘Em C U Sweat,” and most or all of his trusty collaborators St. Lunatics on “Steal the Show,” “Thicky Thick Girl” and “Batter Up.” The album went on to sell more than nine million copies, making it the ninth best-selling rap album of all time in the U.S., and Billboard crowned it the 85th best album of all time on their Top 200 Albums of All Time list. Country Grammar was also nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2000 Grammy Awards (along with its title track for Best Rap Solo Performance) and Nelly was crowned Best New Artist at the 2001 BET Awards. If Tupac Shakur defined West Coast hip hop and Biggie reigned on the East Coast, Nelly arguably put the Midwest on the rap-game map.

Now’s your chance to own a boundary-shattering hip-hop classic and to revisit the story of how an ambitious 25-year-old from St. Louis crafted a new form of urban music and changed the pop landscape forever.

  1. St. Louie
  2. Greed, Hate, Envy
  3. Country Grammar (Hot ….)
  4. Steal The Show
  5. Ride Wit Me
  6. E.I.
  7. Thicky Thick Girl
  8. For My
  9. Utha Side
  10. Tho Dem Wrappas
  11. Wrap Sumden
  12. Batter Up
  13. Never Let ‘Em C U Sweat
  14. Luven Me
  15. Icey*
  16. Come Over*
  17. Country Grammar (Instrumental)*
  18. Ride Wit Me (Instrumental)*

*previously unreleased digitally

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.