Nelly Explains How His 'DWTS' Alter Ego 'Yung Swivel' Plans to Win the Mirrorball (Exclusive)

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Nelly has his eye on the mirrorball trophy, and is ready to do whatever it takes to win Dancing With the Stars!

ET recently spoke with the rapper and his pro partner, Daniella Karagach, who teased what fans can expect from their week 2 performance, airing Tuesday on ABC. During a break from rehearsals for the dance competition show, the two revealed they'll be dancing the Cha Cha to "Let's Grove" by Earth, Wind & Fire.

"That's a song that I basically grew up listening to, all through my house, with my father, my uncle, my mother and everybody. Every family function," Nelly, 45, told ET's Lauren Zima. "How can you not be [a fan]? Especially with me being in music, I mean, you're talking about GOATs. You're talking about possibly one of the greatest bands to have ever walked the planet."

ET then surprised Nelly and Daniella with a video message from Earth, Wind & Fire, which is made up of Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson. "Nelly and Daniella, we'll be watching you," the guys shared. "We know that you're going to turn it out. It's not luck, it's skill. So go on and do your thing!"

Nelly pulled out all the stops during premiere night, rocking sneakers and bringing his own swag to the ballroom when he performed a Salsa to his own hit, "Ride Wit Me." He and Daniella received a score of 16/30 from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli. 

Moving into week 2, Daniella told ET they're "still going to incorporate some grooving" into the routine because that's what makes Nelly stand out from the rest of his competitors.... and what could land him a mirrorball.

"We have a more technical dance this week so we just want to make sure that we not only show Nelly -- we want to keep Nelly -- but we also want to add technique," she explained. "I kind of don't want to take away his groove, I feel like he's so natural at that. So I want to keep that but add technique to it."

"I can break dance better than I can ballroom dance, that's definitely for sure," Nelly added. "I think break dancing is just more a part of my culture. We're trying to embed both worlds, so we're making it work the best we can."

As for that "Yung Swivel" name Nelly's been using across all social media lately? It's a moniker that helps him get pumped up during rehearsals, and before showtime! 

"Nelly is not here right now, it's officially Yung Swivel," Nelly said of his DWTS alter ego. "It's just a little joke, something that I think encourages me to loosen my hips a little more, 'cause I continue to be a little stiff."

"He is not stiff!" added Daniella, whom Nelly has nicknamed "Mother Russia" due to her strict teaching skills. "He is far from stiff."

Dancing With the Stars aside, Nelly has also been busy gearing up for the release of his new EP, The Heartland.

"The new EP I have coming out, we're still putting it together," he teased. "Basically, it's not a country album, but it's country-influenced. I've had a lot of great success in all formats of music and country's been one that has accepted me and shown me a lot of love."

"Whether it's been my song ['Over and Over'] with Tim McGraw back in '04, or my song with Florida Georgia, 'Cruise,' that did unbelievable. So here I get a chance to maybe tap a little bit more into that sound but bring my own Nelly flavor with this EP," he continued. "The first single is called 'Little Bit' featuring FGL. That'll be coming out real, real, real soon, so I'm just very excited about that."

While Nelly couldn't reveal an exact release date just yet, he said fans should be getting the single "within the next 30 to 45 days."

Week 2 of Dancing With the Stars kicks off Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. In the meantime, tune into Entertainment Tonight to hear more from Nelly and Daniella!


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