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Top 10 Nelly Songs

If you are a Pop music fan from around the early 2000s and don’t know who Nelly is, I have to question whether you were conscious or in a coma during that time. Nelly was one of the most famous rappers on the planet. And, although he might not be one of the best on a technical emcee level, his songs moved the crowd and always got the party started without fail.

The top 10 Nelly songs might go to prove that he was more than just a rapper who created pop-inspired rap music for the masses. The Austin, Texas-born rapper was also an entrepreneur and an actor that had many strings to his bow. Here is a handpicked selection of his best songs that never failed to get your booty moving, starting with…

Top 10 Nelly Songs

Top 10 Nelly Songs

#1 Dilemma (feat. Kelly Rowland)

A list of Nelly’s top 10 songs would not be authentic if “Dilemma” featuring Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child fame was not in the top spot. When this track initially hit the charts back in July 2002, it took the music world by storm. Pop and R&B-infused rap music were starting to take over the mainstream pop charts at the time. And this track epitomizes the vibe of that era. 

It was released from his third studio album, Nellyville, and is known as one of Nelly’s best-selling songs ever. Ironically enough, it was also featured as the lead single on Kelly Rowland’s debut album, Simply Deep.

The lyrics are about relationships, while the vibe of the track is very catchy and upbeat. You couldn’t walk 20 yards in the ghetto at the time without that super-slick hook blasting out from all angles. It peaked at #1 on the US Hot Billboard 100 for ten consecutive weeks. When you consider all these things, no other Nelly song could be at the top of this list.

#2 Hot In Herre

Hot in Herre” probably shouldn’t be in second place in terms of rap music excellence. But, as a worldwide Pop music hit, it has to be this high on the list. I think this is Nelly’s most famous song, regardless of what chart positions or unit sales say. 

It’s the sort of track that still gets played at the height of a party even today… 

And let’s be honest; it’s still on heavy rotation in strip clubs across America due to its hot, sultry, sexy, and up-tempo vibes. The track was released on Universal Records in April 2002. And is still super popular over 20 years later. So, that must count for something.

It was one of the first Nelly songs to ever top the Hot 100 Billboard charts in America. This put his name on the pop music map, even though he was already well-known in the rap music industry at the time. 

It topped the charts in many countries at the time and was both loved and hated because it encouraged women to strip off their clothes. It won’t win any Pulitzer prizes for lyricism, but it will simultaneously get every booty in the room gyrating. 

#3 Flap Your Wings

Nelly’s unmistakable half-rapping, half-singing style flourished on this track. “Flap Your Wings” is a bit harder than the first two tracks on this list and goes to prove he was more than just a gimmicky pop rapper. 

This was a single released in 2004 from his Sweat album and was produced by The Neptunes. They are otherwise known as Pharrell William and Chad Hugo, who were the hottest producers in Pop music at the time.

It barely made #53 on the US Hot 100 Billboard charts at the time. Although that was not seen as a commercial success for Nelly, his fans adore this track. Melodic, upbeat, hard, and intense are great ways to describe the vibes of this song. This song might be a bit too high on this list, but it had to be in here somewhere. 

#4 Country Grammar

Country Grammar” was not just a track that put the rapper on the map. It was also important for the sound of rap from the Dirty South. It was released in 2000 and was the first time I’d heard him rap. Although it was very different from anything out at the time, it was something hot and fresh. The track was from his debut album of the same name that introduced Nelly to the world.

During the early 2000s, we started to see an integral shift in rap music away from its New York roots to the southern states of the USA. The change in sound was very noticeable, and not all rap fans liked it at the time. 

However, this type of rap music quickly became the defining sound of the genre from around 2002 to 2010, with the likes of Nelly, Ludacris, and other southern rappers taking these vibes to the world as a whole. 

#5 My Place (feat. Jaheim)

My Place” was initially released in 2004 as the lead single from his fourth studio album, Suit. At the time, the Austin-born rapper was already one of the most famous rappers in the world. His music had already crossed over into the mainstream. And because of that, all of his releases going forward were massive. 

The chemistry between Nelly and Jaheim is undeniable on this joint…

That’s made it such a popular track. It’s a love song where the story is about Nelly getting caught talking to another girl by his then-girlfriend, who asks him who she is. But, as he tried to explain to her that nothing is going on, she slings her chain at him. 

Throughout the track and music video, they reconcile, and all is okay with the world. It peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 Billboard Charts, and let’s be honest, not many rappers ever get that high on the US charts.  

#6 Stepped on My J’z (feat. Ciara & Jermain Dupri)

This cool club banger was always one of my favorite Nelly songs. That’s because it featured Jermain Dupri and Ciara, who are two of the most successful Dirty South imports. 

Stepped on My J’z” talks about the knock-on effects of getting his Nike Air Jordan’s scuffed. It’s a song about an obsession with sneakers. And anyone into Hip-Hop will tell you that is a real dreaded affliction that massively affects B-boys. 

It was released from his 2008 album, Brass KnucklesEven though it wasn’t a massive commercial success, it still made the Hot 100 Billboard charts. In my opinion, at this time, Nelly’s popularity was starting to wane somewhat in comparison to the early 2000s. However, this is still one of his strongest tracks ever and a welcome addition to the top 10 Nelly songs.

#7 Hey Porsche 

Hey Porsche” is one of his more unique tracks that sounds more like a mix of Rap and EDM genres. You can tell it came out after 2010 because the vibe is very reminiscent of the sort of music Nicki Minaj and Pitbull were making at the time. It was released in 2013 from his seventh studio album, M.O., and was well-received by fans and critics alike. 

The sound of the track is much different from his early stuff. But, the music industry was changing, so Nelly had to evolve or get left behind. It still made the Top 50 of the Hot 100 Billboard Charts, so it performed pretty well on a commercial level. 

Some of his long-time fans didn’t like his change in music style, but you can’t please everyone. The track still gets played on the radio today and holds its own in the modern rap music world.

#8 Just a Dream

This is one of the most inspirational Nelly songs that focused more on lyrical content than some of his earlier club bangers. “Just a Dream” was released in 2010 from his sixth studio album, 5.0. This skillfully-created Rap and Pop ballad was produced by Jim Josin and Rico Love. And it was a massive commercial success. 

By the end of 2000, Nelly had been struggling to get back to the top of the Hot 100 Billboard charts. But when this track was released, it peaked at #12.

This is essentially a sad and soppy love song. The likes of which we’d very rarely seen before from Nelly. His tracks were usually super-hot and super sexy. But this one was way more romantic, in a good way. The beat was very musical, with heavy and expansive synths and some cool-ass guitar licks. This might be what you call a Nelly love song, which was quite a unique thing at the time. 

#9 Grillz (feat. Paul Wall, Ali & Gip)

Nelly street bangers don’t come any harder than “Grillz.” This 2005 single from the Sweatsuit album showed that Nelly could hang with real street rappers. 

If you know anything about urban culture, you will know the term ‘Grillz’ is used to describe a fashion denture plate. These pieces of cosmetic jewelry were all the fashion rage at the time. So, it only made sense that Nelly wrote a song about them and brought his boys along for the sheer hell of it.

Although the subject matter might have seemed a bit strange at the time, that’s what made it so popular and talked about. The catchy hooks, melodic rap verses, and up-tempo beat make this tune perfect for the club or cruising in your whip. It’s fun, bouncy, in-your-face, and ultimately it was very well produced.

#10 Ride Wit Me (feat. St. Lunatics)

Ride Wit Me” (feat. St. Lunatics) is possibly the most popular Nelly song ever. When this came out in 2000 from his debut album, Country Grammar, it quickly hit #3 on the Hot 100 Billboard charts. 

This is another song that put Nelly on the map and was many people’s first introduction to the artist. The super-catchy chorus hit hard at the time. “Must Be the Money” was routinely chanted by the masses whenever this came on in the club. 

This popular track was what you played when you wanted to get the party started and turn up the temperature. It’s also ideal when you are cruising in your vehicle. If you check out the official music video, it was full of high-end cars and jeeps in the middle of a hectic block party. And, if you wanted to check out Nelly’s music for the first time, this is maybe where you should start. 

Want More Great Rap and Hip-Hop Tracks?

If so, check out our thoughts on the Best 90s Hip Hop Songs, the Best Hip Hop Songs Of All Time, the Best 2000s Rap Songs, the Best Rap Songs About Money of All Time, and the Best Sad Rap Songs for more banging tunes.

Also, you need to listen to them. So, take a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones for Hip-Hop, the Best Bass Earbuds, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Best Headphones Under $200, and the Best Sound Quality Earbuds you can buy in 2023.

Top 10 Nelly Songs – Final Thoughts

Nelly is not regarded as one of the best rappers of all time. But he did make his mark and was one of the most successful rappers ever in terms of record sales and commercial success. His best songs might not be held up there alongside those from Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, or Tupac. But that’s not what he was about. He was all about party vibes and creating music that makes you feel good.

Nelly helped to put the Dirty South on the map in the early-2000s, and he will always be remembered for that. Tracks like “Hot in Herre,” “Ride Wit Me,” and “Dilemma” still get massive airplay today. So, the boy from Texas did something right. He connected with Pop music audiences, which at the time was not the norm for rappers. As a result, he paved the way for many more to come afterward.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Joseph L. Hollen

Joseph is a session musician, writer, and filmmaker from south Florida. He has recorded a number of albums and made numerous short films, as well as contributing music to shorts and commercials. 

He doesn't get as much time to practice and play as he used to, but still manages (just about!) to fulfill all his session requests. According to Joseph, it just gets harder as you get older; you rely on what you learned decades ago and can play without thinking. Thankfully that's what most producers still want from him.

He is a devout gear heat and has been collecting musical instruments all his life. As his wife, Jill, keeps on saying, "You're very good at buying nice instruments, but terrible at selling them!".

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