[artist id="760701"]Nelly[/artist] may have suffered through his most commercially disappointing project with 2008's Brass Knuckles (which still sold more than 500,000 copies), but the relatively low sales paled in comparison to the personal pain he endured during the making of the album.
In 2005 the rapper lost his older sister, Jacqueline Donahue, to a well-publicized battle with leukemia, and months later his grandfather also died of cancer.
The normally boisterous lyricist was still reeling from the losses when he went back to work; he said he almost didn't return to recording at all after his mourning.
"I lost my sister in '05 and almost didn't make it back," Nelly told MTV News. "That's a lot that people didn't know. Even when I was going into Brass Knuckles it was just, a'ight. I lost my sister and six months later I lost my grandfather. Both of them the same way — different diagnosis but both of them was due to cancer. And we had done so much to try to find a donor for my sister. I don't know if you ever had someone ailing from cancer in your family, but it's some of the most disheartening things to watch people go through so much pain and not be able to do anything about it."
Nelly compared his success to the powerlessness he felt during that period.
"To have so much," he explained. "So much money, so much things that you can basically buy your way out of it, but this thing here you can't get a grasp on it for nothing in the world. And I never lost anything in my life that close to me, never, ever, ever. And this is the person that took care of me."
Professionally, Nelly has finally rebounded with "Just a Dream," which earned him a top 10 solo hit for the first time since 2005.
On a personal level, he says he's dealt with his ordeals. He credits Diddy with helping him to rediscover his passion for work.
The rapper is set to release both a solo album, 5.0, and a St. Lunatics group album, City Free, in November.
"He was like, 'Let's go! What are you waiting on?' " Nelly recalled of Diddy's pep talk. "I was like, 'You know what? You're right.' And I left the party to go to the studio."
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