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One of the biggest stars of the new millennium turns 49 today. To celebrate the legacy of Nelly, check out a gallery of some of our favorite photos of him over the years.

Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. was born in Austin, Texas. After his parents divorced when he was seven years old, Haynes and his mother moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Along with his friends Ali, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, Slo Down, and his half brother City Spud, Nelly formed the St. Lunatics in high school. The group enjoyed a decent amount of local popularity but failed to achieve success outside of St. Louis. After a major record deal never materialized, the rest of the group agreed to let Nelly go solo. In 1999 he was signed to Universal Music Group by A&R Kevin Law. With the East coast, West coast and South dominating hip-hop, Nelly wasn’t necessarily a fan favorite of a lot of people at the label. Despite that, his debut single “Country Grammar (Hot Sh*t)” was a success. It peaked at number 7 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and UK singles chart.

The success of the single made the label realize Nelly’s potential. UMG allowed work to begin on his debut album, which dropped in June of 2000. Country Grammar debuted at number three in the Billboard 200 in the U.S. In 2016, it became the ninth hip hop album to be certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipment of 10 million copies in the US. Two years after Country Grammar, Nelly returned with Nellyville. Thanks to singles such as “Hot In Herre,” “Dilemna,” and “Air Force Ones,” the album debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top 200 Music Albums. “Hot In Herre” won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rap Solo Performance in 2003. The following year, Nelly contributed “Shake Ya Tailfeather” featuring Diddy and Murphy Lee to the Bad Boys II soundtrack. The track earned the trio the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Nelly has released six albums (Sweat, Suit, Brass Knuckles, 5.0, M.O., Heartland) since then. He has sold 40+ million albums worldwide over the course of his career (including 21 million albums sold in the United States). He has starred and made cameos in films (most noticeably 2005’s The Longest Yard) and has two clothing lines (Vokal ans Apple Bottoms) among many other ventures. He is widely considered one of the top artists of the 2000’s decade. To celebrate his greatness, check out a gallery of some of our favorite photos of him over the years. HAPPY 49TH BIRTHDAY TO NELLY!

Country Grammar: Celebrating Nelly’s 49th Birthday With Our Favorite Photos Of Him Over The Years  was originally published on

1. Comfrotable At The Grammy’s


2. All Smiles


3. A True King


4. Plat Plat


5. Real Husbands Of Hollywood


6. Mama’s Boy




8. St. Louis’ Own

St. Louis' Own Source:Getty

9. Crowd Rocker

Crowd Rocker Source:Getty

10. A Family Man


11. Too Clean


12. Hometown Hero


13. Block Spinner


14. Trendsetter


15. Cleaning Up Nice


16. Grillz Still Shinin’


17. Historic


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