Nelly Reacts to 'Dancing With the Stars' Choosing THIS Song For His Debut (Exclusive)
By Desiree Murphy
It's about to get hot in the ballroom, because Nelly is coming through, and it sounds like he's in it to win it!
ET spoke with the rapper via Zoom this week, where he teased what fans can expect from his debut performance on Dancing With the Stars, and why he thinks he has what it takes to walk away with the mirrorball trophy.
Nelly, 45, revealed that he'll be dancing the Salsa to one of his most famous hits, "Ride Wit Me," when season 29 of DWTS kicks off Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. The St. Louis, Missouri, rapper originally released the song in 2000. It was featured on his debut album, Country Grammar, which received massive success and catapulted his career.
"The first song I'll be dancing to is 'Ride Wit Me,' and doing my own music is mixed emotions for me," he explained. "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!"
"I did not pick it. If it were left up to me I probably would not be dancing to my own music," he added, laughing. "Because if I want to dance to my own music I'll go do shows. I'll do what I've been doing for the past 20 years. I came here for a different experience; to take Nelly to a different experience."
Nelly shared that he's had just "a couple" of rehearsals with his yet-to-be-revealed pro partner at this point. He said things are 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. 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.'"
"She's given me so much encouragement, so I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable than I was on the first day," he continued. "I'm a very confident person in a sense. I'm also a Scorpio so I believe that we can do anything. And I think that may have gotten me into this situation."
Nelly added that he's definitely "not shying away" from the competition and plans to give it his "best shot," just as he's done with his musical career.
"I'mma go all out!" he exclaimed. "If you look at me, if you look at my music, I've been able to cross all genres. I've been able to do a lot of things with my music that a lot of people said I couldn't do and said I was crazy for when I first did it. Merging hip-hop and country, hip-hop with pop, but having success. I think this is no different, in a sense of thinking outside the box."
As for who he thinks his biggest competition will be? Backstreet Boys singer AJ McLean!
"That's the one, only because I think his choreographed experience, his dancing experience, is going to help him a lot," he said. "But AJ's dope, man. He's a buddy of mine. We've been doing shows together over the past 20 years."
Ahead of Monday's DWTS premiere, watch the video below to hear from Nelly's other competitors, and tune into Entertainment Tonight on Thursday for more from the rapper.