He was honored at the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards, a ceremony that was filmed last week and aired last night (October 5), but Nelly has much more to say about his influence. The veteran entertainer has dabbled in all facets of the industry and has even hopped between Hip Hop and Country, so it was exciting for fans to see him perform a medley of his favorite hits on stage.

The "I Am Hip Hop" award recipient spoke with BET about his honor and stated no matter what genre his fans may recognize him from, his career is rooted in Hip Hop.

Nelly
Bennett Raglin / Stringer / Getty Images

“Even though Country music is their life and what they do, they grew up on Nelly,” he said. “They grew up on Ludacris. They grew up on Ja Rule. They grew up on 50 Cent. They grew up on Eminem. They still love Country music. There’s no way you got through high school in the early 2000s, late 90s, and you didn’t listen to Rap music, in some form.”

Nelly called Hip Hop "the greatest genre ever invented" and explained why its influence spans every corner of the music industry. “Every other genre of music will be extinct before Hip Hop," said the St. Louis icon. "There’s no way. Hip Hop is a virus. It’s going to infect everything."

Nelly
Bennett Raglin / Stringer / Getty Images

In an interview with ESSENCE, Nelly spoke about the weight of receiving the BET honor and why it means so much to him, coming from being an unknown talent out of the Midwest with Rapstar dreams.

“People don’t understand when I say I had no co-signers,” Nelly explained. “There was no one to back Nelly. There was no one to stand up for Nelly. People showed me love but there was no one to stand up for me. There was no one solidified to say, ‘Yo, he’s good.’ You can’t name me nobody that’s successful in my era or in what I do that didn’t have a co-signer. Everybody had a co-signer, but Nelly. Everybody!”

Watch his "I Am Hip Hop" acceptance speech as well as his 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards performance below.

 

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