Nelly's last album, "SweatSuit," hit shelves four years ago, but his absence hasn't dampened his branding opportunities. Indeed, the promotion schedule for the rapper's oft-delayed "Brass Knuckles," due Sept. 16 via Derrty/Universal Motown, is packed with high-profile appearances and brand relationships.

Thanks to alliances with "Monday Night Football" and a collaboration with Nike's Jordan brand, few in the Nelly camp are concerned that two recent singles, "Wadsyaname" and "Party People," haven't cracked the top 20 on either the Billboard Hot 100 or the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The video for a third, "Stepped On My J'z," reached No. 1 on BET's "106 & Park" countdown, but has yet to chart on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. And a fourth, "Body on Me," sits at No. 62 on Hot Digital Songs after four weeks.

But with a track record of 21 million albums sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, Nelly is "still very relevant to his consumer," Universal Motown VP of marketing Katina Bynum says. " 'Hot in Herre' still gets played at every wedding."

Thus, Nelly had the luxury of...

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