nelly toronto

Here's why Nelly chose Toronto for the inaugural Hot in Herre music festival

It's been a minute since Nelly last performed in Toronto.

The St. Louis rapper is best known for defining the 2000s with hip-hop anthems like Ride wit me, Batter Up, Dilemma, and his number-one hit track Hot in Herre. 

In 2000, his debut album Country Grammar would go on to peak at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, becoming his best-selling album to date with over 8.4 millions copies sold in the U.S. alone.

Nelly's catchy melodies made it easy for him to transition at times to R&B. In 2004, he capitalized on this with the release of his fourth studio album, Suit, which went on to debut at number one on the Billboard albums chart.

The same year as Suit, Nelly surprised listeners, releasing a song with country-artist Tim McGraw, proving his versatility as an artist once more.

His venture into country music didn't end there. Nelly continued to work with artists like Florida Georgia Line and Kane Brown, up until releasing Heartland, his very own country-influenced album in 2021.

"I like it how you do it right thurr /You just to remember why you do that right thurr, I made it tight to be country/ They thought country was bummy/ Till country start making money" - lyrics from Nelly on Anotha One (2004).

Now two years later, Nelly is surprising fans once again with the announcement of Hot in Herre: a music festival showcasing the best of 2000s hip-hop and R&B.

But what's taken the city by storm is the line-up he's assembled.

Headliners include Ne-Yo, Akon, Fat Joe, T.I., Rick Ross, Ja Rule, Chingy, and Keri Hilson. The festival sounds like a dream come true for fans of 2000s throwbacks.

The festival has already made a name for itself as one of the can't-miss-events this summer.

I sat down with the Country Grammar-rapper to learn why Toronto was the city of choice for his inaugural show.

What is it about Toronto that does it for you?

Toronto is one of my favourite cities to perform in, and the fact that I get to come back and bring all the people that came up with me in the industry means everything.

It feels like you guys are such a big part of the States, you're right there, even though I need the passport to come here [laughs], it definitely feels like you’re at home.

How did this festival come to be in Toronto?

We've been talking about it for a while and what better city to kick it off than a city outside of what it is we might traditionally do? Again, [a city] that appreciates the music that we're going to bring.

When you talk about our era, you talk about the 106 & Parks, the TRLs (Total Request Live), the Much Musics, that time and period was so big for all of these artists that are on this show, and this is the perfect spot for that.

Hopefully we just have a great time and people enjoy it, and we get a chance to do it again. We're trying to kick the summer off big.

What can people expect?

A lot of great energy, a lot of the songs that a lot of people your age have fonds memories too, and hopefully [we can] create some new ones too, because I know a lot of us are still working on a lot of different things. You're talking about 6 or 7 hours of hits.

Is this something we might see again in the city?

I hope so, I hope so, it should be a great one, but like you said the response has been overwhelming, so it's up in the air.

Nelly's Hot in Herre Festival takes place at Downsview Park on June 24. 

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