THE WAREHOUSE (St. LOUIS, MO) PHOTO BY KING YELLA Of course Hip Hop had to exist in St. Louis before Nelly even picked up a microphone, but you really can’t fault anyone that wants to believe that Mr. Country Grammar was the first rapper from the city. He’s damn near the only one you can name. When he exploded onto the scene in 2000 with his sing-songy pop appeal raps, many signaled it as the end of non-commercial rap. His busting out of the gate with a 9x platinum debut put his city on the rap radar and ushered in an era where Hip Hop artists became megastars who were able to sell multi-platinum albums, before technology made it possible for listeners to download music from the internet. You can also say it gave record labels reason to believe that any artist on their label, new or old, dope or whack, was a failure if they didn’t move major units. Hardly heard from nowadays, Nelly has his hands into restaurants, hotels, clothing and even owns stake in an NBA team.
OZONE MAG // 69