Sure, it's been a few years since Nelly had a hit, and a bit longer since he was dominating the charts, but let's not forget: This dude was a force.
That all started 15 years ago on June 27, 2000, with the release of his debut album, Country Grammar. The project delivered multiple hits -- from "Country Grammar (Hot Sh-t)" to "E.I." to "Ride Wit Me" -- and has since become one of the best-selling rap albums of all-time, with almost 9 million copies sold.
On it, the then-25-year-old not only showed his ability as a hit-maker, balancing knotty rhymes with melodic approaches, but he also put St. Louis on the rap map. In the process, he brought his distinct flavor of actual Country Grammar to the masses. That meant slang terms, like "derrty" and "E.I." and pronunciations like thurr (there) and thang (thing).
But let's not sell Nelly short. Though what he raps on the title track -- "My grammar bes ebonics" -- may be true, he also taught us plenty of real-life, ready-to-use, more-helpful-than-your-6th-grade-teacher English grammar lessons.
So, as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the album, it was time to take a look back at all the ways Nelly taught us (or at least me) about correct grammar and literary device usage.
Use the active voice whenever possible
Nelly did this often, including on "Greed, Hate, Envy," when he rapped, "I opened up shop at 13," instead of, "The shop was opened up by me at 13."
An apostrophe can be used in place of a letter in a word to abbreviate it
Nelly did this on "Never Let 'Em C U Sweat," when he really meant "Them."
Parenthesis can be used to insert additional information
Nelly did this on "Country Grammar (Hot Sh-t)." We can all agree that it was, indeed, hot sh-t.
An acronym is when you use only the first letters of phrases or words
Nelly did this on "E.I." (which stands for "eat it").
A conjunction is used to connect two thoughts in a sentence
Nelly did this on "Luven Me," when he rapped, "Not a for real smoker, but you choke with me/ Not too hot about the drinkin', but you toast with me." The conjunction here is "but."
An interjection is an interruption to express a feeling
Nelly did this on "E.I.," when he rapped, "Andele, andele, mami, E.I. E.I./ Uh-ohh! What's poppin' tonight?" The interjection here is "Uh-ohh!"
Metonymy is when a word or phrase is substituted for another
Nelly did this on "Utha Side," when he rapped, "I see you running with your lil' crew/ Out here fightin' over red and blue." He uses "red and blue" to signify Crips and Bloods.
Onomatopoeia is a word that signifies the sound that it describes
Nelly did this on "St. Louie," when he rapped, "Knockin' out of control/ Like a boom, boom, boom, who is it?" The "boom, boom, boom" is a knocking sound.
Hyperbole is an exaggeration to make a point
Nelly did this on "Wrap Sumden," with the chorus, "This is no lie/ Me and my n---as gettin' high/ Yo, if you look up in the sky/ You might see us floating by." Of course, they weren't actually in the sky, nor floating.
Alliteration is when the same sound appears at the beginning of consecutive words
Nelly did this on "Greed, Hate, Envy," when he rapped, "I might ride the Range with the Roley on the rocks."
An allusion is a brief reference to something in history, literature or culture
Nelly did this on "Thicky Thick Girl," when he rapped, "Trying to play me like Jim Carrey and pull some 'Dumb and Dumber' sh-t."
A simile is when one thing is compared to another, using "like" or "as"
Nelly did this on "Country Grammar (Hot Sh-t)," when he rapped, "Blow thirty mill like I'm Hammer."
A metaphor is when something is said to be something it is not, for comparative purposes
Nelly did this one "Batter Up," when he rapped, "Now we're up in the Big Leagues/ My dirty it's our turn at bat." They weren't actually in the MLB, nor up at bat, in the literal sense.