The early-to-mid-2000s was a particularly unique era in rap music. From the tall white T-shirts to the emergence of popular dance trends, rappers during this era kept listeners hungry to keep up with every trend they introduced. Nelly was among those influential rappers.

Born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., Nelly burst onto the music scene in 2000 with his debut album, “Country Grammar.” The album and its title track earned Grammy nominations during the 2001 awards, prompting insight into the rapper’s trajectory.

The current father of four would experience more success following his debut release with other songs such as “Hot in Herre,” “Air Force Ones,” and “Pimp Juice.” Nelly’s success would land him additional Grammy nominations, with him eventually earning three awards, according to the Grammys website.

While the St. Louis, MO-raised rapper experienced significant success in the music industry, he did not subject himself to staying behind the mic. Nelly launched the record label Derrty Entertainment in 2003, shortly after entering the music scene. The most notable act from that label was the Hip-Hop group St. Lunatics, which included Nelly himself and his childhood friends, Ali Jones, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, City Spud, and Slo’Down.

Building a music empire would pay dividends later for the 49-year-old. 

According to a previous report from AFROTECH™, Nelly sold 50% of his catalog to HarbourView Equity Partners in 2023 for $50 million. Nelly sees the sale as a move to build generational wealth.

“You can never really sell anything like that forever. Technically, it’s a lease. So in like 30 years it comes back,” Nelly said in an interview on the HBO television show “The Shop: Uninterrupted.” “So, if I ain’t took the little 50 mil and made nothing happen in 30 years, then I need my a– whooped anyway. You hear a lot of people say, ‘I would never do it. I would never do it.’ Why wouldn’t you do it? That’s your equity, that’s your gold.”

People can leave their opinions on Nelly’s decision to sell parts of his catalog in the comment sections. However, what has been proven is an upward movement in his career due to his years of hard work and business acumen. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the expectant father of his fifth child, and first with singer Ashanti, has an estimated net worth of $70 million.

Music, however, isn’t the only way Nelly has built his wealth. As stated on his website, the “Country Grammar (Hot Sh-t)” artist launched his spirit brand, MoShine. The moonshine brand, which references his love for Hip-Hop and country music, aims to “create good times and great vibes.”

Fashion is often a centerpiece in musical culture. In 2003, Nelly launched the popular women’s clothing jean brand Apple Bottoms. The denim label, which is also referenced in the iconic Flo Rida song “Low” featuring singer T-Pain, brought in over $150 million in revenue, per his website. Nelly sold the company in 2015.

Denim apparel wasn’t the only venture Nelly stepped into. The rapper would partner with minority Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to launch Three Commas, a T-shirt clothing line inspired by Cuban’s inspirational quotes — with the name originally referring to the three commas in a billion dollars.

With various businesses, Nelly is no stranger to giving back. The label Derrty Entertainment also has a philanthropic arm. The company, headed by Nelly, hosts St. Louis’ Black and White Ball celebrity gala, which returned in December 2023 after a hiatus. Fox-2 reported that the formal affair focuses on raising funds for Make-A-Wish Missouri and scholarships for local students to attend Harris-Stowe State University, a Historically Black College and University.

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Despite the many moving parts of Nelly’s portfolio, music is not something of the past for the artist. Per Billboard, the country music and Hip-Hop artist recently signed with WME for global representation.