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Cornell Haynes Jnr., 2 November 1974, Austin, Texas, USA. Haynes had an itinerant childhood, moving to Spain at one point before ending up in the ghettos of St. Louis, Missouri. A talented baseball player, Haynes opted instead to form the St. Lunatics rap crew with high school friends Kyjuan (b. Robert Cleveland), City Spud (b. Lavell Webb), Big Lee (b. Ali Jones), Murphy Lee (b. Tohri Harper), and Slow Down (b. Corey Edwards). The St. Lunatics enjoyed a local underground hit in 1996 with Gimme What Ya Got, but despite this success they failed to persuade any major labels to offer them a recording contract.
In 1999, Nelly opted to pursue a solo career and was signed to Universal Records. The regional popularity of his singles translated into national success when Country Grammar, his debut collection, took over from Eminem at the top of the US album chart and stayed there for several weeks. Suddenly, all the talk was of new...