Nelly’s had a fun-as-hell summer promoting his new single “The Fix,” featuring Jeremih, and performing with Taylor Swift and Haim on Swift’s 1989 tour. But despite rumors that said otherwise, Nelly is in fact not working on a country album.
Though he’s contributed excellent verses to country songs like Tim McGraw’s “Over and Over” and Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” the rapper will not be releasing his collection in that genre. Billboard first reported the news in April, citing confirmation from talent manager J. Erving, but now Nelly says otherwise. “That got misconstrued,” he tells EW. “We talked about doing an EP that went across all boundaries and being a different vibe. I love country music. I respect it to the utmost. But there’s nothing in the world that makes me think I can do a country album. That’s like Tim McGraw waking up like, ‘Yo, I’m gonna do a rap album.’ Like, ‘Tim, you’re taking the “Over and Over” thing a little too far.’ What I think I can do is do something in the vein that can go across and fulfill different formats of music, country being one of them. I may do an EP that features more than one country artist, so it may have a different vibe, but not a country album.”
Instead, he’s currently “writing and recording” a new set of songs that will hopefully be his next album, and his first since splitting from Republic Records last year. (2013’s M.O. was his last album with the label.) Since then, he signed with former Island Def Jam CEO Barry Weiss and SONGS president Ron Perry’s new label, RECORDS.
“Talking to Ron and Barry, I think we came up with a situation that I think business-wise and creatively was something I wanted to try out,” he tells EW. “It was different. I don’t know how to describe [the new album]. It’ll be along the lines of expanding what I like to say is hip-hop after-hours. Hip-hop is always going to be for the youth by the youth, but now it’s getting older. You have more people that are a little older but are still hip-hop fans.”
Nelly says there’s no specific timeline just yet, but adds, “It may come around the top of next year sometime as we get ready to do more music and plan a tour around [that time] as well.”
Until then he’s working on what he calls “re-inserting Nelly back into the music scene.” He says, “Where I want to be is right where my fans want me. Hopefully, back on your TV screens, on your radio, and back in front of you live in concert. So far so good.”