When it comes to participating in reality shows, Nelly is all for seeing just how fancy he can get with his footwork, but singing competitions? No thanks! In an interview with Billboard, the “Hot in Herre” singer reveals why he’s down to get his hands on Dancing With the Stars’ season 29 mirrorball trophy, but not so keen to put on a head-to-toe costume for The Masked Singer.
“I took this on more or less of a challenge, and basically because of the pandemic, you’re not doing anything!” the singer, who’s dropping new tune “Lil Bit” on Oct. 23, tells Billboard’s Jordyn Rolling of his participation in ABC’s long-running ballroom bash. “I had been asked to go on different reality shows dealing with different things, and its like, ‘Nah, nah.’”
The artist, who admits that he “can’t dance at all,” shares that he was invited on to a couple of singing shows, but he wasn’t interested. “I don’t want to sing. I do that for a living,” he explains. “I’d totally be upset if I lost to a Housewife rapping or singing. Even though I love those shows — I love The Masked Singer, I love to watch it — but I don’t think it’s for me because I think I would be upset if I lost to somebody who’s not a professional musician, so to speak.”
Though he’s been busy recently with DWTS, the pandemic has allowed Nelly more time to not only spend with his loved ones, but on his music, including his super catchy Florida Georgia Line collaboration “Lil Bit” and upcoming Heartland EP.
The rapper says that when he was in Nashville for three weeks, meeting up with the country band was a “no brainer.” “My relationship with them is super tight,” shares Nelly. “We’ve done two tours together, we have a bunch of other tours planned, and things that we want to do. … They’re family.”
He also dishes that his once and future tour mates love hip-hop music. “All they listen to is hip-hop!” Nelly reveals. “When we’re on tour, behind the stage and backstage … the only thing that’s bumpin’ is Young Thug and Lil Wayne and some Drake and DaBaby.”
“At the end of the day, hip-hop runs the world,” adds the artist, whose multiplatinum debut album, Country Grammar, marked its 20th anniversary in June. “We are everywhere and we influence everything.”
As for the country genre? He adores it. “I love country music, I respect country music, I respect the culture that is country music, I respect the artists that are country music,” Nelly says, adding that he considers Heartland — which he is hoping to release in early 2021 — “country influenced” and not country. “I say that to say I, as somebody who respects that whole entity so much, I would never try to do a country album.”
He continues by explaining that he’s trying to be authentic, and country’s not his lifestyle. “I live a hip-hop life. When you get certain artists that don’t live the hip-hop life and all of a sudden they wanna do a hip-hop album, I look at that like a little bit of a, ‘Nah, c’mon, ya’ll,’” he shares. “You can be hip-hop influenced, your song can be hip-hop influenced, your album can be hip-hop influenced, but you’re not a hip-hop artist. And I’m not a country artist, so I don’t want to disrespect all those that work hard that live the country life.”
On the topic of respect and representation, the artist hopes that come January 20, there will be an administration in the White House that better reflects the country.
“I do think we do need a certain type of representation that represents us all, and it’s not being represented by the current administration at all,” says Nelly, who doesn’t consider himself to be a member of a political party, and hopes that people will make their voices heard by voting. “I always believe that the first family should be what all of our families look at and try to be. … Just try to fool me, at least! Try to act like you got some sense!”
Watch Nelly’s interview above to get the first taste of “Lil Bit.”