After performing in Dubai club Provocateur last Wednesday and holidaying in the UAE over the weekend, hip-hop star Nelly is basking in the success of his new single The Fix and finding true love.
Your new single The Fix has been a club favourite on both hemispheres. How did it come together?
It was an idea that DJ Mustard had. He called me up and I listened to the beat and once I heard it I liked it a lot. Then I went and hammered it together for a bit and then I called my man (R& B singer) Jeremiah and he basically put the icing on the cake. I am just glad that it turned out the way that it did. We released this independently and anytime you do something new and it gets the success that we did you are just grateful.
You said the aim of The Fix is to bring you back in the music game. The funny thing is that it seemed that you have always been around. What do you mean by that?
There is a difference between being iconic musically and being hot at the time, you know what I am saying? Every artist wants a song that comes on at the club at two in the morning and not just be a tribute track, but continue the flow of the club – with The Fix we achieved that.
As well as being a regular club performer, you recently performed as a special guest of Taylor Swift during her blockbuster 1989 arena tour back in the States. How was that experience?
She is cool. I have known Taylor for a long time and I have performed with her four times. She puts on a great show and always gives 110 per cent no matter what she does. Taylor loves what she does and the fans are very receptive to it. When she shows up they show out. She loves bringing different people out to her shows and she flew me out to perform with her. She is a great person and she is like a little sister – I love her.
Are you still working with your clique, The St Lunatics?
I have been doing Nelly and St Lunatics for so long now that I want to try to do something a little bit different. It's kind of like I am pretty sure Michael Jackson loved his brothers but he wanted to go and make Thriller (the 1982 classic album) and evolve. Sometimes if you want to do things a little bit faster you have to walk by yourself.
As well as your club show in Dubai last week, you spent the weekend holidaying with your partner, model Shantel Jackson. Both of you have busy careers, is it a challenge balancing that with the relationship?
It comes down to understanding and being able to communicate with each other. Both sides have to listen to each other. That’s the thing that I have learnt from all of my relationships. For a long time I felt like I wasn’t being heard in my past relationships and to be someone that is actually listening to you and actually cares about what you want is a dope thing.
Finally, it has been 15 years since your debut album Country Grammar was released. What’s the biggest thing you learnt in your career thus far?
You can’t please everybody. That has been behind a lot of my pitfalls as I am going through this business. You want everyone to be as happy as you are but you find out that not everyone is happy because they are not doing what you do. So many people want to be where you are but they don’t do the work that you do and sometimes you get caught up in that. You have to remain true to yourself and to those people who know what you are doing.
• The Fix by Nelly (featuring Jeremiah) is out now through Sony Music Middle East