Born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., Nelly emerged from the heart of St. Louis, Missouri with a fresh and distinct sound in the world of Hip Hop. His journey began with the St. Lunatics in the late '90s, but it was his solo debut, Country Grammar, that catapulted him to stardom in the summer of 2000. With a smooth blend of melodic rap and Southern drawl, Nelly captured the essence of Midwestern life and solidified his place in music history with the album, while seizing the charts and achieving the RIAA’s rare -- even for the aughts -- Diamond status for selling more than 10 million copies.

His career is practically brimming with hits that defined an era. With tracks like "Hot in Herre," "Ride wit Me," and the Kelly Rowland-assisted, "Dilemma," the star dominated airwaves and clubs alike well past his blockbuster debut. And his influence, spilling into fashion and sports, extended beyond music, but always kept St. Louis in the spotlight. Check out our ranking of Nelly’s albums below.

8. M.O.

Nelly's album M.O. showcases his ability to blend assorted styles at the highest level and collaborate with a diverse range of artists. It features the energetic single "Get Like Me" with Nicki Minaj and Pharrell, and the crossover hit "Walk Away" featuring Florida Georgia Line. The album also includes contributions from Fabolous, Rick Ross, Nelly Furtado, Yo Gotti, T.I., and 2 Chainz. With M.O., Nelly pushes boundaries and delivers a project that highlights his evolving sound and wide-reaching influence.

7. Heartland

Nelly's country album, Heartland, marks a bold exploration into new musical territory. Creating a unique fusion of genres, the 2021 outing from the St. Louis rapper presents a blend of his hip hop roots and country influences with features from Florida Georgia Line, Kane Brown, George Birge, and Chris Bandi. Tracks like "Lil Bit” exemplify this crossover appeal and display his versatility, along with a broadening artistic reach.

6. 5.0

On his 2010 album, 5.0, Nelly continued to innovate and bring together a diverse array of sounds and artists. The album features an impressive lineup of collaborators, including Baby, DJ Khaled, Plies, Chris Brown, Akon, T-Pain, Kelly Rowland, Sean Paul, Keri Hilson, and Dirty Money. Anchored by the hit single "Just a Dream," this project also marks the beginning of something new for Nelly, as he lays the groundwork for a genre-blending future.

5. Brass Knuckles

Bolstered by the Ashanti-featuring hit, “BodyOn Me,” Nelly's 2008 album, Brass Knuckles, represented a significant moment in his career, exemplifying the rapper’s ability to consistently deliver influential and chart-topping music. Boasting an impressive lineup of collaborations with Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Usher, Fergie, Chuck D, Ciara, Gucci Mane, and more, the LP underscored Nelly's standing as a prominent figure in Hip Hop, as well as a unique ability to create memorable tracks and collaborate with top-tier artists.

4. Suit

Marking a departure from the club-friendly anthems of his earlier sound, Nelly's album Suit was released in 2004 as part of a dual album alongside Sweat, which embraced a smoother, more R&B-infused vibe. The project featured hit singles like "My Place" with Jaheim and "Over and Over" with country star Tim McGraw, highlighting how Nelly's artistic elasticity earned him heaps of crossover appeal. The rapper’s third/fourth studio album(s) topped the charts and garnered critical acclaim for an innovative melding of genres and heartfelt lyrics.

3. Sweat

Packaged along with the previous entry as a double-album, Sweat exemplified Nelly’s pliable, high-energy approach to Hip Hop in 2004. The LP featured collaborations with Missy Elliott, Mobb Deep, Fat Joe, Christina Milian, Murphy Lee, and Christina Aguilera, as well as production from The Neptunes, Jazze Pha, and The Alchemist, further demonstrating Nelly's command over a broad range of musical styles. With tracks like "Flap Your Wings" and "Na-Nana-Na," Sweat put Nelly's ability to create catchy hooks and energetic beats at the forefront.

2. Nellyville

Released in 2002, Nelly’s sophomore solo album, Nellyville, almost immediately soared to the #1 spot on the Billboard charts. And for four consecutive weeks, that’s where the album remained. Highlighting a unique blend of St. Louis swagger and mainstream appeal, Nellyville revealed the rapper’s ability to go 2-for-2 with a string of chart-topping hits like "Hot in Herre," "Air Force Ones," and "Dilemma" featuring Kelly Rowland, each of which became their own cultural touchstone of the early 2000s.

1. Country Grammar

Nelly's debut album, Country Grammar, launched him to fame upon release in 2000. With its infamous blend of Southern rap and Midwest swag, it achieved Diamond status -- a rare feat for any genre, but especially for Hip Hop -- thanks to its massive sales, which exceeded 10 million copies. The opening pages of a Middle American rap epic, Country Grammar not only established Nelly as a breakout star, but also set a high bar for subsequent musical endeavors with iconic tracks like the titular "Country Grammar," the engaging "Ride Wit Me," and the vibrant "E.I.," all of which became certified anthems of the early 2000s.