Nelly vs. Drake: The Numbers Behind the Internet's Latest Debate

Nelly and Drake
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Nelly and Drake

Earlier this week, a debate emerged on Twitter (as they are wont to do, seemingly from the ether) about who was bigger: Nelly, hip-hop's enduring early aughts megastar, or Drake, the current king of the genre's radio (and, of course, streaming).

Given how the industry has changed in the decade or so since Cornell Iral Haynes Jr.'s heyday, it's tough to get a definitive answer either way -- but so you can draw your own conclusions, we've collected all the relevant Billboard chart stats below. Worth noting: Nelly did end the year as Billboard’s No. 1 overall artist once (2002), while Drake’s best finish thus far has been No. 3 overall (2016).

The Hot 100


Chart debut: No. 100, April 2000, "(Hot S**t) Country Grammar"

Total charted songs: 35

Songs that reached the Top 40: 19

Songs that reached the Top 10: 14

No. 1s: Four -- they are:

“Hot in Herre” (seven weeks; 2002)

“Dilemma,” featuring Kelly Rowland (10 weeks; 2002) -- "Dilemma" replaced "Hot In Herre" at No. 1, making the summer of 2002 all Nelly, all the time.

“Shake Ya Tailfeather” with P. Diddy & Murphy Lee (4 weeks; 2003)

“Grillz,” feat. Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp (2 weeks; 2006)


Chart debut: No. 92, May 2009, "Best I Ever Had"

Total charted songs: 132 (ties Lil Wayne for second-most of all acts, behind Glee Cast)

Songs that reached the Top 40: 57

Songs that reached the Top 10: 18

No. 1s: Three -- they are:

“What’s My Name?” by Rihanna (as a featured artist) (one week; 2010)

“Work” by Rihanna (as a featured artist) (nine weeks; 2016)

“One Dance,” featuring WizKid & Kyla (10 weeks; 2016)

Billboard 200


Charted albums: 10

Top 10 albums: 6

No. 1s: Three -- they are:

Country Grammar (five weeks; 2000)

Nellyville (four weeks; 2002)

Suit (one week; 2004)

The week Suit debuted at No. 1, another Nelly album, Sweat, debuted at No. 2, making Nelly only the seventh act to control both Nos. 1 and 2 on the Billboard 200 since the chart combined its mono and stereo lists into one ranking in 1963.

Charted albums: 7

Top 10 albums: 7

No. 1s: Six -- they are:

Thank Me Later (one week; 2010)

Take Care (one week; 2011)

Nothing Was The Same (one week; 2013)

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (one week; 2015)

What a Time to Be Alive (with Future) (one week; 2015)

Views (13 weeks;  2016)