Nelly’s hit record, “Country Grammar,” turned 20 years old this summer—meaning that it’s been a full two decades since the release of classic tunes like “Ride wit Me,” “E.I.” and the album’s title track, “Country Grammar (Hot Shit).”
But in addition to contributing heavily to the soundtrack of millennial adolescence, Nelly also brought a lot of attention to his hometown of St. Louis—essentially putting the city on the rap map as his music topped the charts in the early 2000s.
That strong hometown connection is also what led to collaborations with Anheuser-Busch, which was also born in St. Louis, starting with a 2005 Budweiser ad that Nelly starred in alongside Tim McGraw following the pair’s groundbreaking collaboration on the country rap mashup track, “Over and Over.”
With the release of a new, limited edition 25-ounce Budweiser tall boy can featuring Nelly and “Country Grammar” lyrics, the rapper and beer brand are exploring new ways to reflect and represent each other’s identification with St. Louis. At this point, the two brands have established a natural, almost familial, connection, Nelly said.
“It feels genuine,” said Nelly. Growing up in St. Louis, Nelly said the presence of Anheuser-Busch was so ubiquitous that it was almost interchangeable with the city itself. “St. Louis is like one big family,” he said. “I was born into this St. Louis family, and I just so happened to spring out on my own to be who I wanted to be.”
Coming back to his hometown to collaborate with Anheuser-Busch just made sense after that. As opportunities arose to work with the alcohol conglomerate, it happened smoothly, he said, never feeling forced or insincere. Those opportunities just “came along at the right time,” said Nelly. “It made sense.”
The cans also feature other subtle nods to the artist’s hometown, like logos for the St. Louis Cardinals Nelly’s St. Louis-based record label, Derrty Entertainment. They’ll be available for a limited time starting Tuesday.
Nelly sees the collaboration as part of a broader mission to bring the recognition and pride to St. Louis that he feels it deserves. That’s also where he sees an overlap between his work and the work of Anheuser-Busch, he said.
“At the end of the day, we both share a vested interest in helping the city,” said Nelly, and giving it the recognition that it deserves. While Anheuser-Busch has done that by creating jobs and opportunity for St. Louisans, Nelly’s tried to do it through his music, he said.
“St. Louis is a dope place,” said Nelly. “Come on down, check us out. You know, open your mind and hang.”