Nelly Speaks On The New Rap Movement vs Older Schools

Ten years have passed since Nelly signed a deal with Universal Motown, and it’s commonplace now to hear rappers like Drake, T-Pain, and many others blending singing with their spoken lyrics. They’re younger, perhaps even wiser than he was about how to capitalize on the sound over the past few years, but Nelly gives them respect. He says he understands that all things change, and that Hip-Hop is a youth-driven culture. He recently invited to his Apple Bottom offices in New York and he talked candidly about some of the discord between the generations. He also changes the conversation to how we can improve relations.

Nelly to One thing I think is that we as the beginning rap fans, and I’ll say those over 30, we were some of the first fans. What we have to understand is what made us fans. What made us fans was the rebellious music…was not listening to what older people told us we should be listening to.

So now, why is it that when we became the older people, we forgot how hip-hop got started? We were rebelling. So when we go back and we try to tell people who are fans of certain people that we may not like, all that does is make them rebel, and it makes the s**t bigger. You see what I’m saying? As we get older, it gives us the right to contradict, and when we’re younger , we don’t have that right? No.

What we’ve got to understand is that hip-hop was made for the youth, by the youth. And it’s going to always be controlled by the youth. So we’ve got to understand that, and we’ve got to understand that it’s going to make mistakes. We have to allow it to make those mistakes. But you also have to give those same young people the respect, so that hopefully one day they can wake up, and we work with them and not against them.

A lot of people want to work against them, as opposed to working with them. If you can get people to come in and work with them…if you can get Nelly and KRS-One to talk…whoa, lo and behold, you got Nelly and KRS on a song. And that’s what it’s about.We gotta bridge that.

I think we s**t on the young people for liking something so much that we look like haters to them. I don’t want to be a hater to my kid. I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t want to be a hater to my son. I want my son to think he’s got the coolest muthaf**kin’ dad on the planet. Because I wished that when I was young. I wanted my dad to be cool…like why couldn’t my dad have been more like Rev Run? You see Rev Run on TV and you’re like, damn, he’s cool. He likes hip-hop, he’s cool to everybody.

My dad used to s**t on rap. My uncles and them were like ‘that’s not real music,’ and they were talking about Run DMC and LL Cool J and Tupacs and Biggies, you know what I’m saying? Which now , we try to get people to listen to like ‘take it back to the old school.’ It’s crazy.

As told to's Seandra Sims