The internet loves to speculate, meaning it's been in full-spec mode since news of a possible country EP and/or album from Nelly broke earlier this year. The project, often referred to as Heartland, was apparently meant to be a highly collaborative release aimed at capitalizing on the chart success of Nelly's previous collaborations with definitely-country artists Tim McGraw and something called a Florida Georgia Line.
Sadly, rumors of Nelly's public detour through the difficult waters of country music have been greatly exaggerated. "It got kinda twisted," Nelly admitted to Rolling Stonein a recent interview. "It's not actually country, so to speak. I love country music. I respect country music so much that I would never think that I can sit down and just as easy do a country album. That's not it. That's just like some country artist saying, 'Hell, I'm just gonna do a rap album.' What I will say is that, I'm trying to come up with an idea of doing an EP that crosses all boundaries, all genres and it may feature different country artists."
Knowing all of us would surely want to know such things, Nelly then revealed his own country-based inspirations. "'Sweet Home Alabama' it's just like, how could you go wrong? And obviously 'The Gambler.' My father loved 'The Gambler,' he liked old Kenny Rogers. Everything him and Mrs. Dolly Parton were able to do, you know in those days. I mean it's not like country music was my influence but it gave me an appreciation for it."