#23. Nelly, Country Grammar (2000)
Other works include: Nellyville, Sweat, Suit, Brass Knuckles, 6 Derrty Hits
Jonathan Mannion: “Cuda Love is a friend of mine, and Nelly was his artist. Cuda had been telling me that he had this kid whose sound was nothing like anything that I’d heard before. He told me to meet him in the studio, and that’s where I met Nelly.
“Nelly was just a young kid from St. Louis. It wasn’t a big impactful moment. It felt easy, like I had known the kid forever. I talked to him about being from Cleveland and Midwest roots, vibes and sensibilities. We talked about what was important to us, and we really saw eye-to-eye in that moment.
He’s like LL, in that he’s an ambassador of the movement of how to do it. He’s fit, he challenges himself, and he’s going to hit higher heights, even still.
“They told me that when it was time for the album cover, they’d need me. I told them I was on deck. Not that Nelly needed it, but it was around that time when a Jonathan Mannion shoot became like a co-sign.
“It was like, ‘Oh, we’ve got the best cat in the game. The guy who does all Jay’s stuff, all DMX’s stuff, all Ja’s stuff.’ So it was cool.
“I loved the experience of getting to go to St. Louis for the first time. I had an amazing time. They showed me everything, and it was really humble.
“I was down there for about two or three days, with just one of my assistants, and they showed me what they did on a daily basis. They showed me the lab, where they made the tunes, his old home, U-City, the spots they liked to eat at, and personally took me to scout. It was great.
“I love the fact that he’s still here. He’s always been consistent and positive. He’s genuine, and he’s a great dude. He’s like LL, in that he’s an ambassador of the movement of how to do it. He’s fit, he challenges himself, and he’s going to hit higher heights, even still.”