The first song I remember hearing

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’

“I don’t want to date myself but my mum used to play this a lot when I was younger. It’s probably the first song that I knew the words to. All music brings back memories but my mum and dad got divorced very early on [in my life]. They were together for only a couple of years and then got married. So this song helps me remember a time when I actually had a mother and father at once.”

The first song I fell in love with

New Edition – ‘Cool It Now’

“I used to really love New Edition [when I was] growing up. They were a boyband but they had all the girls. Right there, that’s the group for me, buddy. The measure of celebrity, no matter how big you are, is how many people love you and the majority of the boybands then were being loved by probably 75 or 80 per cent of girls, so New Edition was the link for me.”

The first album I owned

N.W.A. – ‘Straight Outta Compton’

“It didn’t make my mother too ecstatic when she found out that I actually had it. Some friends of mine had a few portable tape players and we would take them down to the park and listen to all the things that we couldn’t listen to at home – and that was one of the tapes I couldn’t wait to buy. My mom was pretty cool about things like that – she didn’t condone it but she would let me know that she wasn’t too pleased about me having it, and if it caused me any troubles, so to speak, then I would also be in trouble with her. But I didn’t get why people thought: ‘Yo, this music is turning people into…’ You know? I didn’t want to go out and shoot nobody or nothing like that, I just liked the music.”

The first gig I went to

Earth, Wind & Fire in St. Louis, Missouri

“My father took me, but I was a baby and the only reason I remember it is because I couldn’t see and this was one of the first times he put me on his shoulders so I could see. They had these flames and shit that used to come up out of the side of the stage and I thought like, ‘Yo, that was incredible, these guys got fire!’ I thought they actually made the fire themselves. My dad would put the Earth, Wind & Fire record on and I used to always look around the house for fire because I thought that the fire was coming.”

The song that reminds me of home

Nelly – ‘Country Grammar (Hot Shit)’

“That’s why it’s one of my favourite records. My songs are like children – I love ‘em all but this one’s special because I had to fight the label so hard for it to be my first single. I wrote it before I had a record deal, before I knew that the rest of the world would get a chance to hear it. It was made strictly for St. Louis [where Nelly was raised] – and it was really hard to get a record that everybody in St. Louis appreciated. Nobody from St. Louis had ever been on the type of level that we wound up being on. So for that song to introduce me to the world was very special.”

The song I wish I’d written

T-Pain – ‘I’m Sprung’

“I really like T-Pain, I think he’s one of the most underrated artists, period. Once you get into the studio with him and see him work you really see his talent. When I first heard ‘I’m Sprung’, I thought that it sounded so different from everything that was playing at that time. Nothing sounded like ‘I’m Sprung’, it just came out of freakin’ nowhere. He wasn’t the first to do Auto-Tune – I think Cher was – but even if you take the Auto-Tune off it’s still a great song.”

The song I do at karaoke

Village People – ‘Y.M.C.A.’

“I’ve probably done karaoke twice in my life. I think I helped somebody on this one before. It was a cool record, it was very easy. I wasn’t doing the hands but I was rocking out, I acted like I knew the record. It was super easy.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

WizKid – ‘Essence’

“It’s a very, very catchy record. He’s actually an African artist, and it’s just a great freakin’ record, man, it’s awesome. It’s hard to get out of your head: (sings) ‘You don’t need no other body…’”

The song I can no longer listen to

Milli Vanilli – ‘Baby Don’t Forget My Number’

“Everybody had a little Milli Vanilli going on for a second – they was cool, and then you found out it wasn’t cool. It’s like: ‘Wow, what’s going on here?’ I think everybody was a little too hard on Milli Vanilli at that time. It is what it is. [It emerged in 1990 that singers Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus had lip-synced on their songs] It shouldn’t matter who’s singing but it’s hard sometimes, trying to look past certain things, for anybody. At that time musicians were way more authentic. I think they would have gotten away with it a lot easier now.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Nelly – ‘Luven Me’

“I guess it probably depends on how I go out, but hopefully it’s one of mine. ‘Luven Me’ would be good if I have a choice, but I guess it would probably be up to the people who I leave behind and how they feel about me when I’m gone.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Michael Jackson – ‘Billie Jean’

“It’s all about that little kick and that drum beat and that bassline, it just makes you want to move. I’ve never not at least bobbed my head or done a little shuffle when I’ve heard it, I don’t care where I’m at – it just always makes me move. I used to be able to moonwalk, now it’s a little more like old man sliding backwards.”

Nelly headlined ‘CMT Crossroads: Nelly & Friends’ earlier this month. Check out highlights here

The post Soundtrack Of My Life: Nelly appeared first on NME.


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