Backward Jerseys All About 'Showing Love,' Nelly Says

'TRL' tour headliner's Band-Aids inspired by basketball accident.

Apart from sales, rappers know they're making an impact on the game by the trends they set through their music and videos. Grand Puba, for example, put the 'hood onto Tommy Hilfiger, while the Boot Camp Clik made it cool to rock Timberlands in the summer. More recently, Jay-Z made Belvedere ("Belve") vodka a drink of choice by name-checking it on his The Dynasty: Roc la Familia 2000 album.

A Nelly idiosyncrasy — a version of the Kris Kross gimmick of wearing clothes backward — is being ciphered throughout the hip-hop community: the St. Lunatics leader has everybody wearing their sports jerseys backward.

"That came from showing love to our peoples," Nelly said of the summer trend. "My n---- Larry Hughes plays for the [Golden State] Warriors. I wore the Warrior jersey but I wanted to show love, so I put it on backward and everyone read Hughes. In the 'Country Grammar' video I had my n---- [Orlando] Pace. Usually when I turn it around, I'm showing love to whoever, like, 'This is my dirty right here, Orlando Pace from the Rams.'"

Rap and R&B videos show everyone from the Cash Money crew to Jermaine Dupri and Lil' Bow Wow extending appreciation in the same manner to athletes such as Edgerrin James, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson. Travel to a basketball court in Virginia, you're guaranteed to spot backward jerseys sporting the names of NBA All-Stars such as Tracy McGrady. Catch the subway in New York City, you'll see the names Bryant and Moss on kids' chests rather than their backs.

"It's all good," Nelly said of everyone copping his fashion sense. "That's always been a part of us. The high school me and [St. Lunatics member] Kyjuan went to, [St. Louis' ] U-City High, was a fashion high school. If you didn't have nothing to wear, you didn't go. The new Jordans come out, we'd skip school to get the new Js at the mall and make it back in time for lunch."

Nelly, who's featured on the "TRL" tour, said he's seeing another one of his trends popping off: wearing a Band-Aid on one cheek. That accessory, he admitted, was purely accidental.

"I was hoopin', got a nice little gash and had to wear a Band-Aid for three weeks," recalled Nelly, who still rocks a Band-Aid despite having healed. "People weren't used to seeing it and we started getting wild calls like, 'What up with the Band-Aid?' Now kids is wearing the sh--. I come out and see four dozen kids wearing Band-Aids and I'm like 'Oh, sh--.' That's wild, 'cause you control a life and can be an influence."