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Nelly Again Recalls His Proudest Moment as a Successful Artist — Retiring His Mother

When Nelly, the renowned rapper and singer, soared to success, his first instinct was to share his triumph with the woman who had always been his rock — his mother.

Nelly, via @Instagram, @nelly

On March 5, during his appearance on “The Shop” podcast, Nelly recounted the journey of his rise in the music industry, highlighting how it allowed him to retire his mother, a feat he has always been proud of since becoming the artist he is today.

Making Mom Proud–And Work Free

Rhonda Mack, Nelly’s single mother, supported him throughout his music career while juggling multiple jobs, Nelly revealed, including working at McDonald’s. Ad his young career had its ups and downs.

Despite setbacks with his rap group, the St. Lunatics, Nelly persisted and eventually found success as a solo artist in 1999.

Nelly, alongside Big Lee, Kyjuan, Murphy Lee, and City Spud, initially achieved only regional recognition as the rap group St. Lunatics. Despite their major record deal as a group falling through, when Universal Music Group expressed interest in Nelly as a solo artist, the group collectively decided to support his solo career, according to All Music. 

Nelly’s debut album, “Country Grammar,” released in 2000, marked a groundbreaking moment in mainstream music. 

Mixing his Southern drawl with Midwestern twang, Nelly’s unique fusion captivated audiences nationwide. With hit tracks like “Ride wit Me,” “Batter Up,” and “Hot,” the album soared to the top of the charts, spending five consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200. It became the ninth hip-hop album to achieve Diamond certification by the RIAA in 2016, selling over 10 million copies. Not only was it a commercial success, but it also received praise from critics, solidifying Nelly’s position as one of the most influential rappers of his generation.

The fame did not get to Nelly’s ego, at least when it came to giving back to his mother, who unexpectedly received a surprise visit from her son at the McDonald’s drive-thru. 

On that day, shortly after receiving a gold record at the time by UMG, Nelly uttered the words most mothers want to hear: that she was able to retire and no longer had to worry about finances.

“I didn’t tell her I was coming, and I just drove through the drive-thru, and I pulled up to the window, and she was like, ‘Hey.’ She didn’t know I was coming. And I was like, ‘You should come with me. You can quit.’ And that was basically the best memory that I had, was being able to pull up to her job and tell her she doesn’t have to work there anymore,” Nelly told NBC in 2020.

The story of Nelly’s proudest achievement, his mother’s retirement, was brought up the rapper numerous times over the years. 

In an article published in The Baltimore Sun on Nov. 13, 2002, it was revealed that following the release of his second album, “Nellyville,” on June 25, 2002, Nelly not only brought his mother out of retirement but also provided her with a new home.

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