GRILLZ by NELLY
This song is about the cosmetic dentistry that many rappers get to show off their wealth. This dental work is called a "Grill" because it makes their mouth resemble the grill of a car. Grills became popular among the "Dirty South" rappers in the '90s.
A breakdown of some of the lyrical references:
"I'm changin' grillz everyday, like Jay change clothes" - Jay-Z's 2003 track "Change Clothes.
"VVS studded, you can tell when they cut it" - a high quality diamond (Very, Very Slightly Included)
"Poten' oil" - poten' - A drink popularized in Houston made from cough syrup.
"Call me George Foreman 'cause I'm sellin' everybody grillz" - Former boxing champ George Foreman endorsed a line of indoor cooking grills.
"You can catch me in my Too Short drop" - The rapper Too Short's 1995 song "Top Down."
"Got a Bill in my mouth like I'm Hillary Rodham" - Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton.
'Tippin' on some 4's" - Mike Jones' 2005 song "Still Tippin.'"
The song features Paul Wall and Ali & Gipp and was produced by Jermaine Dupri.
Nelly told the story of the song in a 2010 interview with XXL magazine: "I called JD like, 'Yo, what chu doin', I'm gonna come down and f--k around with you for a couple days'…We just sat in there and we tried to think about it and we ain't come up with nothing. So he was like, 'I'll tell you what, let's go to Magic City.' So we just sitting there chillin', doing Magic City s--t and we got to drinking, and the more I got to drinking–I forgot who was playing, but it was somethin' that just set me off–and I was like [(humming) smile for me daddy/I wanna see your grill] and I just kept sayin' it, sayin' it, sayin' it, and I was like, 'Oh, s--t' and I was in his ear, and I was like, 'Shawty, I got it,' and he was like, 'Aaahhhh!' And he was like, 'Let's go,' and we was out. We packed that s--t up and went back to the studio, you know what I'm sayin'… us and half the muthaf--kin' club! …We went back to the studio and we hammered that s--t out, and I was like, 'Yo, we need to get Paul Wall on this s--t. And Gip was one of the first ones to have the white grill, way back in the day so I was like we gotta get Gip, too."
The song's ascent to the #1 position meant that Nelly had achieved a unique 1-2-3-4. His first chart-topper was solo ("Hot In Herre"), his second was a collaboration with Kelly Rowland ("Dilemma"), his third, a trio effort with P. Diddy and Murphy Lee, ("Shake Ya Tailfeather") and his fourth, a quartet single featuring Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp (this song).
COUNTRY GRAMMAR (HOT S--T) by NELLY
Nelly (born Cornell Haynes Jr.) had an itinerant childhood, moving to Spain and then to the ghettos of St. Louis, Missouri. He achieved local underground success with rap outfit St. Lunatics in 1996, before going solo in 1999. This Country-meets-Hip-Hop tune was his debut solo single.
The song's melody was taken from the playground song, "Roller Coaster".
Nelly told the story of the song in an interview with XXL magazine: "It was a beat that I had got from one of our producers at the time JE. I loved the beat but I don't think everybody in the group was as excited about the beat as I was. So I took it to one of the most historic clubs in [East] St. Louis. It was called Club Casino. I took it over there the same night and we had a DJ that had been supporting us previously up to that point and his name was DJ 618. He put it on right away and from that moment, you know what I'm saying, people was like, 'Boom, boom, boom' and the s--t just blew up from there, you know."
A radio friendly version was also recorded, in which the word "s--t" is backmasked, and most of the explicit words are replaced by cleaner versions and/or bleep-related sound effects.
HOT IN HERRE by NELLY
The extra "R" in "Herre" is there to indicate that it is really hot. Definitely hotter than just one "R." It's also a written expression of the St. Louis accent, where Nelly is from. Christina Aguilera did the same thing on her song, "Dirrty," which needed the extra "R" because it was really dirty. Another rap hit from the time, "Right Thurr" by Chingy (also from St. Louis), used the extra R as well.
This was produced by The Neptunes, who are the team of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams. In addition to their own group N.E.R.D., they produced for Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and many others, specializing in high-energy hip-hop beats. Nelly makes reference the producers in the line, "Nelly took a trip from the Luna to Neptunes."
The groove is based on "Bustin' Loose," a huge go-go hit for Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers released in 1978. Nelly's line "I feel like bustin' loose" also comes from that track.
In the summer of 2002, this was a huge hit. Listening to it didn't require a lot of thought, and Nelly had already established himself as a rapper focused on enjoying life. These kind of songs tend to do well in the summer, like "Summertime" by D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (summer of '91) and "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin (summer of '99)
This won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rap Solo Performance in 2003. Nelly performed part of the song at the ceremony, and was then joined on stage by Kelly Rowland so they could sing "Dilemma," their duet that took the award for Best Rap/Sung Performance. Nellyville was nominated for Album of the Year, but lost to Come Away With Me by Norah Jones.
Nelly performed this at halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl, which is where Janet Jackson caused an uproar by exposing a breast.
Nelly recalled recording the song in a 2010 interview with XXL magazine: "I did that in L.A… I remember 'cause Busta was in the same studio and he came through and he heard the beat and you know how Busta is, you know he's over the top. He's life, 'Yo, god! What is that sound?!!?!? [Laughs] What is that sound coming from here, god? Oh my, god! Pharrell, where was that beat at? Where was that? You were hiding that from me!' It was a little unorthodox for the time definitely coming out from 'Country Grammar' …to a Pharrell [beat], that 'Hot in Herre' sound. But, it worked and it helped me too 'cause it helped me show versatility, not just having to do one angle on some s--t."
Weird Al Yankovic recorded a parody of this called "Trash Day," about a guy who refuses to take out the trash and then describes it.
San Francisco's Latino Mix 105.7 played this for 18 hours straight on a continuous loop starting at 3 p.m. (PDT) on March 14, 2014. It was reportedly an act of stunting to promote the radio station's branding change to "Hot 105.7."
The song featured in ads aired during the summer of 2016 for Bud Light's Lime-a-Rita line.
Nelly got some heat from the IRS in 2016 when the agency hit him with a tax lien of $2,412,283. Fans responded by throwing an online streaming party for this song, hashtag
#HotInHerreStreamingParty, to help out with his tax burden. Unfortunately, royalties from streaming services are in the $0.006 range, meaning it would take about 400 million steams to erase his debt.
AIR FORCE ONES by NELLY
This song was written and performed by the St. Louis hip hop artist Nelly, from his 2002 album Nellyville, and features Kyjuan, Ali and Murphy Lee from his Hip-Hop group St. Lunatics. The song finds Nelly and his crew purchasing Nike Air Force Ones footwear.
Nelly recalled to XXL magazine how joking around with his partners spawned a hit tune: "We had got the beat from some producers back home and we had heard it—we were playing it in the dressing room as we were getting ready for the show… We had just talked about leaving the mall and my sister who used to do my styling at the time was getting things for the show—mighta been some fresh new Air Forces—and Murph [Murphy Lee] was like, 'Man you shoulda got me like two peerrr or somethin'' like that you know what I'm sayin' [laughs] and we just started playing with that and integrating that into the hook. It's funny with us, we're family first so I guess when you get around family they tend to bring out certain things in you. I don't wanna say you act more goofy or whatever, but you more relaxed around your family so things like that come out."
Nike Air Force Ones was the first basketball shoe to use the Nike Air technology. The name is a reference to Air Force One, the plane that carries the President of the United States. They were originally considered the favored shoe of inner-city youth, before Hip-Hop artists and streetball players adopted them.
DILEMMA by NELLY
Featuring Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child, this song is about a girl who thinks about another guy even when she's with her boyfriend (thus the "Dilemma"). Nelly and Kelly act this out in the video, but also in the song, as they sing to each other by name.
This was the first big release for Kelly Rowland away from her group, Destiny's Child. Nelly was an established star and hot on the charts, but Rowland was not widely known on her own. This was a good (and very safe) way to introduce her as a solo artist and get her ready for her first album.
The chorus is based on Patti LaBelle's 1983 song, "Love, Need And Want You." LaBelle is in the video.
Nelly heard a tune written by his friend Bam (Antoine Macon), and wanted to include it on his album. Bam recalls: "We sat down at the keyboard and just messed around. Then we added some drums and Nelly began to write some words." It was almost finished when Bam put on the Patti LaBelle album I'm In Love Again and started humming one of the tracks, "Love, Need And Want You." Nelly was not familiar with the song but liked it and insisted they use the "I love you" hook. When Nelly heard the finished track, he said, "I wanted to do something that nobody would think of, and that's why I bought in Kelly Rowland. I thought she would be better on her own as opposed to Destiny's Child." (Quotes from 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh. Thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
This prompted rumors that Nelly and Kelly were dating. They maintained that they were simply good friends.
This spent 10 weeks at the top of the American chart in 2 runs. It paused for a couple of weeks to allow in recent American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This."
The duo recorded an update of this song titled "Gone," which was a track on Nelly's 2010 album, 5.0.
Nelly recalled collaborating with Kelly Rowland on this song in a 2010 interview with XXL
magazine: "I did the Nellyville album in Miami, recorded the songs and all that [short pause] and we kind of felt like we needed a couple more songs on there. So, the last two songs that we put on Nellyville were 'Hot In Herre' and 'Dilemma.' At this time we had been on tour with the girls from Destiny's Child so we had become, fairly close to the girls and all that and I was like, 'What do you think about Kelly?' but at this time she was dating someone very close to me, I should say that, and we was like, 'Yo, fam, this would hot.' So you know we got her in the studio and s--t was magic."
This replaced "Hot in Herre" at #1, making Nelly the fifth artist in Hot 100 history at the time to succeed himself in pole position, following the Beatles, Boyz II Men, Puff Daddy and Ja Rule.