Ballroom dancing may be new for Nelly, but his debut performance on Dancing With the Stars wasn't totally out of his element. The rapper performed a Salsa to one of his most famous hits, "Ride Wit Me," with partner Daniella Karagach on Monday night's premiere.
Nelly promised to bring a "whole new swag" to the show, and he certainly delivered when it was time to hit the dance floor. The pair delivered "sexy magic," according to new host Tyra Banks.
Judge Bruno Tonioli congratulated Karagach on her first time having a celeb partner on DWTS. Season 28 was her first with the show, though she wasn't paired with a celeb. Carrie Ann Inaba praised the couple's back flip, but encouraged Nelly to "open up." "You gotta show us who you are beneath all of that," she advised.
Derek Hough recommended Nelly try out a pair of ballroom shoes for his next performance, but for now, he was OK with Nelly's sneakers. "Good dance," Hough said.
The judges awarded Nelly with a score of 16/30.
In an interview with ET earlier this month, Nelly said he had "mixed emotions" about dancing to one of his own songs. "Doing my own music is mixed emotions for me," he said. "On one hand I'm very thankful that they're using my music, but on the other hand it's like, 'I came here to dance and not really be Nelly, but to bring Nelly to a different genre.' But I'm game, so we'll see what happens!"
As for his rehearsals, Nelly said things were going well, but admitted ballroom dancing is "definitely different" from anything he's ever done.
"I think the first day I was like, 'What the hell am I doing?' It was definitely one of those [days], but the more and more I've gotten into it, my partner -- my inspiration, my coach -- is very good," he said. "I think to put up with me in a certain situation of, 'Are you sure? I don't know if we're going to get this step,' that's me. She's just nailing it home, like, 'Yo, you can do this.'"
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.