Nelly may have shifted away from hip-hop altogether, having transitioned quite gracefully into the realm of country music, but many fans will forever celebrate his triumphant run at the beginning of the millennium and beyond. 

Now, the legendary artist joins the likes of Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, and more as an official recipient of the BET Hip-Hop Awards storied “I Am Hip-Hop” Award, which was officially announced ahead of the big ceremony on October 5th.

“This year, we’re honoring hip hop legend, award-winning rapper, actor, trendsetter, and social advocate,” captions the network, on their IG page. “The 2021 I Am Hip Hop Award honoree is none other than @Nelly!”

Nelly

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Speaking on the big prize, Nelly had this to say, as per Billboard

“I am honored to receive this award and humbled to be in such great company of past artists who have received this award. I have been blessed to work with some incredible people in my career, making 22 years go by in the blink of an eye. This award isn’t just about Nelly; it is about my fans, BET, and the people that continue to support me and allow me to do what I love to do.”

Nelly’s introduction to the rap game in 2000 — which arrived by way of the diamond-certified Country Grammar — remains celebrated as one of the greatest debut albums of all time. Boasting singles like “E.I,” the title track “Country Grammar,” and the genre-bending “Ride Wit Me,” Country Grammar established the St. Louis rapper as a household name.

Shortly after came Nellyville, and while it wasn’t quite as celebrated as its predecessor, it still featured some of Nelly’s biggest hits, namely “Dilemma” and the trend-setting “Air Force 1s.” It even featured a sequel song to “Country Grammar,” this time bringing the St. Lunatics on board. Suffice it to say, Nelly’s storied career is well worth celebrating, making him a fitting recipient for the prestigious honor.

Congratulations Nelly!