It’s getting “Hot in Herre” for Cornell Iral Haynes, Jr. Haynes, known to most of us as St. Louis’s own Nelly, is in serious financial trouble. In August 2016, he was hit with a $2,412,283 tax lien. But his woes didn’t stop there. Nelly also found himself in tax trouble with the State of Missouri. The Missouri Department of Revenue says Nelly owes $149,511 in unpaid taxes from 2013.
Brian Joseph, contributing writer for Spin magazine, offered a creative solution for fans who wanted to help the musical artist who made them dance “Over and Over” at their high school dances. Joseph proposed streaming Nelly’s music on Spotify — a simple idea that turned into a social media sensation.
This isn’t “Just a Dream.” Soon, the hashtag #SaveNelly appeared, and fans began a Nelly streaming party. His Spotify numbers grew. In fact, Spotify said streams of Nelly songs tripled during that first week. Spotify doesn’t release the actual stream count, but the app showed a significant increase for “Hot in Herre.” (It jumped up by 328,875 in one day.)
Not to put a damper on the situation, but the payout for artists per stream is only somewhere around $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream. For fans to really help Nelly, they’d have to stream his songs 402,880,500 times. Let’s not forget that the revenue from each stream is split between Nelly, labels and producers. So who knows how much the “Country Grammar” star would actually receive.
But Nelly might be finding relief during his “Dilemma.” #SaveNelly is generating a lot of traction. During “The Late Late Show,” host James Corden joined fans by downloading Nelly’s tracks. And over on “The Late Show,” host Stephen Colbert parodied the popular tune “Hot in Herre,” calling it “Debt in Herre” to create fiscal awareness for Nelly. Not as helpful as Corden’s method, but hey — it’s something.
The enormous support behind Nelly isn’t surprising. This St. Louis native is no stranger when it comes to helping others. He founded the non-profit 4Sho4Kids to help drug-dependent babies and children with development disabilities. He also created Jes Us 4 Jackie, which educates African-Americans about the importance of bone marrow transplants and why they should register to be donors. The campaign was inspired after Nelly’s sister was diagnosed with leukemia.
Specifically for St. Louis, Nelly created the White and Black Ball, which started as a fundraiser for scholarships and now grants wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The event began in 2006 and has grown tremendously every year.
His care and concern for the well-being of others is an overarching theme in his life, and it seems fans everywhere didn’t tune that out.
The lesson here (besides that one should always diligently pay taxes) is to never underestimate the power of social media and a loyal fan base. The key is engagement. After one mention of #SaveNelly, fans lit up Twitter with the hashtag and photos of themselves streaming Nelly’s songs. Social media aligned Nelly’s needs with avenues for fans to engage with him, influencing millions of streams. Guess the country’s love for Nelly isn’t totally “Gone.”