Nelly recently faced criticism from fellow St. Lunatics member Ali, who claimed the "Hot in Herre" artist "hustled" him and the rest of the group back in the day. Now Nelly has defended himself during a visit to the St. Louis radio show Wat Up Doe, claiming Ali initially signed on to the group as a manager and wasn't a performer.
"There's three people in this group that's been a Lunatic since day one; Nelly, Kyjuan, and City [Spud]," Nelly explained, as HotNewHipHop pointed out. "We all went to school together. Alright? Cool. When we first started the Lunatics, Ali was not in this group. Stop me when I'm lying."
Ali, alongside two others, wasn't supposed to be a performer, and even then he allegedly didn't play with them during some of their earliest shows.
"When they said the Lunatics was doing all the legwork and talent shows and all of that, that was us. He didn't do that," added Nelly. "When we was going around town making a name for ourselves, doing the car wash, performing at the talent shows at [colleges]—that was us, that wasn't Ali. Ali did not perform with us. Either he thought he was too good or he didn't perform with us. ... Just factuals. Actual factuals."
When the time came for the St. Lunatics to perform a Jive Records-hosted showcase, Nelly says Ali was nowhere to be seen. In fact, he was instead with another artist who "worked at the barbershop." Jive said they wanted to hear more from the Lunatics after the performance, and the group then signed a deal. When they signed with a local production company and were offered free studio time, Ali became an official member of the outfit.
Listen to the full interview on Wat Up Doe at the 1:38:30 mark above.
Ali has claimed he had to fight to keep Nelly's verse on "Gimme What Ya Got" after the production company allegedly wanted him removed, but Nelly says he was told at the time it was because he hadn't signed the contract, unlike the rest of the group. "Ali done got everybody to sign but me," he said. "My back against the wall. I ain't got no leverage." Due to that situation, he accepted an offer to fly to New York to work on solo material.
While Nelly didn't specify when that situation went down exactly, he remarked that his decision to work on solo material "did not sit well with everybody." He said when he was offered a record deal, he wanted to make sure that they could release a group album after working on his debut solo record Country Grammar. However, the Lunatics said they didn't want to be on the group's only album, Free City, unless they would get paid appropriately.
Nelly had to speak with his label at the time, Universal/Fo'Reel, to make sure they got paid, and they did. The label took that money from Nelly's budget, though, and he had to pay them back. Ali left the group some time later, and Nelly believes he personally made all the decisions to get where he is on his own.
Shortly after the interview surfaced online, Ali responded in a series of extensive Instagram posts. "Let me just show you the LIE," he said. "In the interview he’s saying how he had plans on bringing the whole group back together (that’s a LIE, I begged him back in February to please bring the group back, he said 'that isn’t what I want to do') ... Also he’s in the interview same interview he said 'even bring Ali back' ... Bring Ali back?!? You’re acting like...you had options."
Elsewhere in the first post, which was shared on Wednesday, Ali continued to accuse Nelly of lying about wanting to bring back the St. Lunatics. On Thursday he followed up with another response to the situation, and doubled down on his accusation that Nelly is a liar.
"I’m telling the Truth, he’s going against the one person that he knew would have his back !!! ... He said a lot in this enter view and it’s the perfect tool that I’m goin to use to show that he was lying (his not a liar)....he was just lying !!" he wrote. He had also shared a lengthy 97-minute video on his account, further muddying the waters regarding who said what and who is or isn't lying.