Who wrote all of the songs that you were listening to before ‘A Milli’?”
“I started when I was thirteen,” she said. “After that, I was always a fan. I knew that it was going to happen. I knew I could make it because I loved the music.”
In the past month, some of her fans have asked her where she got the nickname “Nelly” (“She is not a name on the internet,” she said.) She said her parents were very particular about names, but the name became her. “If the kids used that ‘Nelly’ I was like, ‘Whoa,’ because I was so insecure back then,” she said. “But now, you know — ‘Nelly.’ It’s a good feeling.”
As the mother of two, she said she is not one to worry about everything she does.
“I always have a plan,” she said. “I have no worries about that stuff.”
She smiled again and added: “Maybe it’s more important to me to show people how I feel than to try anything.”
On the phone Tuesday, she said she had just turned 18. Her son was now 3, so he would be called Nelly now. She said she is not going to tell her mom, but she would love to be called by a younger sibling.
One of the most influential figures in hip hop, as seen on “The Real ‘Nelly.’ ”
Nelly was born March 25, 1977, the same year the song was released, and the same day that Jay Z released the first of several albums bearing his name. He was born in Harlem as Nelly West. When Nas died, in February 2005, his mother was unable to get access to her grandson for a week following his death. She asked a judge to force a phone call to be sent to her. It was to Nelly, who she said asked her not to cry, but to speak the truth about her son’s death.
Her son’s mother was also a woman of color. “We had black children, white children and mixed children,” she said. “When he was alive, he was like my brother and my son. He was my first child.”
Nelly, born with cerebral palsy, struggled in school.
“At the time, he had a problem with reading,” her mother said. “He was only really learning basic stuff, like, numbers and
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