He’s a multi-award winning artist with 21 million records sold. He fell into the darkness for a few years and now he’s back, on screen, and welcoming us with open arms into Nellyville. And thank you, we are enjoying our stay.
The show, named after his critically acclaimed second album, hit our screens on BET in November and follows the life of the generally private Nelly and his two children, niece, and nephew. He’s just the latest in a long line of rappers to let the cameras into his home after Rev Run and Coolio broadcast their lives in the name of entertainment, except the stories behind Nelly’s family have a little more depth.
Nelly – real name Cornell Iral Hanes Jr – is not only father to his two children Chanelle and Tre, but is also a father to Lil Shawn and Sydney, the nephew and niece of the rapper, following the death of his sister Jacqueline in 2005.
And death has run in the family with daddy’s girl Chanelle witnessing her boyfriend shot to death, an event she’s still coming to terms with. And it leads to a compelling show.
Unlike Run’s House and Coolio’s Rules which deal for the most part in humor and massaging the pop stars’ egos, Nellyville actually tackles serious issues and concentrates on the “Hot in Herre” singer as a single father, juggling his time as a businessman and entertainer.
We’re introduced to this in the very first episode, with the series also seeing Nelly as a doting father, comforting Chanelle after her boyfriend’s recent death, as well as Shawn who is still grieving for his mother who lost her battle with cancer.
It’s a clear indicator that Nelly hasn’t lost touch with reality despite his millions. He encourages his daughter’s education alongside giving plenty of advice to Lil Shawn who wants to follow in the footsteps of his world-famous uncle and become a star.
Although that’ll be a tough act to follow. Over the years not only has the 40-year-old become a chart-topping rapper, but has also made his way into film and television, starring in the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard and appearing on ESPN’s The World Series of Poker.
In fact, poker is a big hobby of the hip hop mogul. Over the past few years, Nelly has been spotted playing the popular texas hold’em game in tournaments around the world – most notably at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure where, in addition to playing the tournament, he also entertained his opponents during the lavish party thrown during the poker festival in The Bahamas.
With Nelly’s last album bombing – were you even aware of 2013’s M.O.? – some thought it would be a gamble casting him back into the limelight, but it’s simply not been the case.
The show is mid-way through the first season and has gained quite the following since premiering on November 25, and could see his career take off once again. He’s already lined up for a role in the John Herzfeld film Reach Me, which stars Sylvester Stallone, Kelsey Grammar, and Kyra Sedgwick, and the 2015 thriller A Fall From Grace, making Nellyville a popular destination in Hollywood once again.