Nelly was one of the most prominent rappers of the early-2000s and ruled the charts following his entry into the mainstream in the late-’90s. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, the emcee (real name Cornell Haynes) was one of the first artists from his city to achieve national fame. Most known for his 2002 R’n’B track ‘Dilemma’ featuring Kelly Rowland, Haynes
In the early-1990s, Nelly became part of St. Lunatics—a St. Louis-based collective of friends comprised of Nelly, Ali, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, City Spud, and Slo Down. However, only Haynes would have a successful solo career. Nelly brought a previously unheard country twang to hip-hop and, as the frontman of St. Lunatics, Haynes was a highly visible figure in his city. DJ Kut is one of the primary individuals responsible for Nelly’s success as a solo artist. Kut (real name Brian Nelson), as a proud Missouri native, would heavily play St. Lunatics on The Beat FM 95.5.
Akin to many artists not operating in highly-populated cities, Nelly was independently flooding his area and engulfing states with mixtapes. Before long, around the turn of the millennium, record labels were beginning to notice the traction Haynes was picking up, and in 1999 he signed with Universal Records. The St Louis act’s 2000 debut album, Country Grammar, went straight to the top of the Billboard 200 and cemented Haynes as a rapper to be reckoned with.
In the year 2000, Nelly released a single and music video that would end up causing a vast amount of controversy. For his album Country Grammar, Haynes released his single ‘E.I.’ However, it was the visuals for ‘Tip Drill’, also known as ‘E.I. (Remix)’ that caused problems. Following its release, the women of Spellman pressured BET and MTV to ban the raunchy video. However, initially, they did not, but Nelly met with the women to settle the issue. The video was condemned for showing various sexual acts, including men throwing money on women and Nelly swiping a credit card between a woman’s buttocks.
The remix video has since been removed from the internet and is unavailable to the public. However, you can watch the original visuals in the video below.