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About Nelly

In 2000, Nelly put St. Louis on the map. At the time, hip-hop was just barreling out of the ‘90s, when gangsta rap and the Shiny Suit era largely held the spotlight and gradually introduced rap music to a broader audience. The East and West coasts steered the sound and aesthetic of hip-hop as it gained footing in the pop world, staking territory in an industry that had largely favored pop and rock in the decades prior.

But with the release of Country Grammar, his blockbuster debut album, Nelly rewrote the rules of what a rap star could be. Country Grammar, which released on June 27, 2000, became an astronomical success, topping the Billboard 200 for five consecutive weeks and the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for six. It spawned four colossal singles—“Country Grammar (Hot Shit,” “E.I.,” “Ride Wit Me” and “Batter Up”—that were inescapable smashes, with three becoming top 20 hits on the Hot 100.

Its legacy endured. In the years that followed, Country Grammar solidified Nelly as one of the most influential and foundational hip-hop artists of the ‘00s, cementing him as the third-most successful artist of that decade. In 2016, Country Grammar became the ninth hip-hop album to earn a coveted diamond certification, and set the stage for a trailblazing career that followed, counting four singles to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and tens of millions in sales.

For Nelly, though, the triumph of his debut album was beyond just accolades and units moved, marking a moment in pop culture that hadn’t yet been seen: a rapper from the Big Arch competing in the same league as contemporary pop juggernauts like Britney Spears and *NSYNC. In what could be considered overnight success, Nelly, then 25, pioneered a style yet to be heard and duplicated countless times by others in the years that followed. In a singsong drawl that mined from the laidback demeanor of Southern emcees, he filtered braggadocio raps beaming with Midwestern pride through melodies that effortlessly smudged the line between R&B and hip-hop. Never before had an emcee so casually architected a sound as specific as Nelly who, along with his St. Lunatics crew, had disrupted the coastal dominance of hip-hop and confected an album that would slingshot around the world.

But as Country Grammar turns 20, it’s impossible to deny how Nelly rewrote the rules of what it means to be a rapper at the dawn of the new millennium, breaking down the door for the pop-rap hybrids that followed and altering the course of hip-hop forever. Nelly may have gone on to achieve international acclaim, but St. Louis—and the album that made it—will always be his foundation.

About Freedom Williams (C&C Music Factory)

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!!…With over 8 million units sold, it was and still is today, the song heard round the world! As the front man and co-founder of the international multi-platinum selling group C and C Music Factory, Freedom Williams has traveled and performed around the world extensively, and has yet to meet a crowd that he couldn’t captivate. His performing abilities are just one of the things that keep the crowds mesmerized. Freedom was born in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Queens, New York which is where it all began. Queens, New York has been the home to some of the greatest rappers and entertainers to ever grace a stage.

Freedom went to Junior High School in Hollis, Queens, home to RUN-DMC, Jam Master Jay, and L.L. Cool J. Freedom wasn’t just a watcher of Hip-Hop culture; he was one of the innovators and early hands-on creators. He would rock basement parties as MC Tiny Tim, a name he took from the 70’s and 80’s funk group The Fat Back Band and their song entitled “King Tim the 3rd,” which predated Sugar Hill’s “Rappers Delight” as the first commercially successful Rap record.

Freedom’s first commercially successful single was put out on the independent label Nu-Groove Records owned by Frank and Judy Russell he was featured as a guest vocalist. Def Jam records executive Kelly Monaghan, introduced Freedom to them. Interestingly enough, the song was called “Rise to Freedom,” which was produced by the 7 member, house music super group, Total Science out of East New York. The single featured Underground Network founder Barbara Tucker.

Freedom’s second single entitled “Get-Dumb,” which was distributed by Vendetta/A&M Records and co-produced by Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez of the now famous Masters at Work tandem (which also includes Little Louis Vega), was on the B-side of the hit song “You’re my One And Only (True Love)” by Seduction, which was put together by mega-hit producers Clivilles and Cole. Shortly thereafter, Freedom, Cole and Clivilles would form C and C Music Factory featuring Freedom Williams. As soon as Rob and Dave (Clivilles and Cole) heard Freedom rap, it was a wrap. With five #1 Dance/Club Play hits, including “Gonna Make You Sweat” (Everybody Dance Now), “Rock N Roll”, Things That Make You Go Hmmm”, “Just a Touch of Love” and “Do You Wanna Get Funky” in the early to mid 1990s, it is hard to argue that fact.

Freedom is currently working on film projects, community activism and new music. His recent singles “Mindbounce” with newcomers, Speakerbox, peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Dance chart with “Party Time” also making noise on the overseas charts. He is also featured on the hit single “Underlying Feeling” with the Dance Diva, Sylvia Tosun. For 2013 Freedom has collaborated with DJ Unk (“Walk it Out”, “2 Step”) protégé “Stranger Candy” and the internationally acclaimed DJ/Production team “Audio Junkies” to bring you the New Millennium “Everybody Dance!” and a new album of hot new material to solidify his legendary status in the EDM and Hip Hop worlds.
Freedom is still captivating crowds around the world and is arguably the most recognizable voice in dance music history but he is also a Hip-Hop force to be reckoned with.