2021 has been an amazing year for Nelly.
The rapper, who took the stage at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival and made history with his eight studio album — the hip hop/country infused Heartland — snagged yet another prestigious honor, taking home the I Am Hip Hop Award at the 2021 BET Hip Hop Awards.
Stars like Kelly Rowland, Kevin Hart and Jermaine Dupri honored Nelly as they highlighted the star’s contributions to hip hop over the last two decades. The St. Louis legend gave an impassioned speech to the Atlanta audience, reflecting on his 22-year career, saying:
“This ain’t just for me. This for my whole area [Midwest]. I never had a cosign. I got thrown in the deep end and was told to swim.”
Nell took the stage following his acceptance speech, performing hits, including “Country Grammar”, “Air Force Ones”, “Dilemma” and “Hot In Here”. He also thanked LL Cool J for being a major influence in his career.
The star-studded ever also featured performances by Young Thug,Big Lattoand more.Trina, Remy Ma, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool Jand Jermaine Dupriwere among the legendary group of presenters for the evening.
Tyler The Creator made history during the show after taking home the first ever Cultural Influence Award for his contributions as a musical and creative vanguard. Nelly also recently made history as the first rapper to headline CMT Crossroads, alongside ,Florida Georgia Line, who are also featured on his Heartland album.
Check out the full list of winners from hip hop’s biggest night here.