Previous winners of the I Am Hip Hop award, in addition to those cited above, are Grandmaster Flash, KRS-One, Russell Simmons, Ice Cube, Salt-n-Pepa, Rakim, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Scarface, Luther Campbell and Lil’ Kim.
“I am honored to receive this award and humbled to be in such great company of past artists who have received this award,” Nelly said in a statement. “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 will be celebrated “for his massive contributions to music and the culture at large,” BET said in a statement.
Nelly has amassed four No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: “Hot in Herre,” “Dilemma” (with Kelly Rowland), “Shake Ya Tailfeather” (a collab with Diddy and Murphy Lee) and “Grillz” (featuring Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp).
He has accumulated three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200: Country Grammar, Nellyville and Suit. His albums have sold a combined total of 22 million copies in the U.S., according to the RIAA.
The rapper and entrepreneur is also known for his fashion line Apple Bottoms, starring in the BET series Real Husbands of Hollywood, and his reality show Nellyville, also on BET.
Cardi B, Lil Durk and Megan Thee Stallion are this year’s leading nominees, with nine nods each, followed by Drake with eight. Tyler, The Creator and Metro Boomin tie for third-most nods, with four each.
For the full list of nominees, which are selected by a voting group of music industry insiders, click here.
The BET Hip Hop Awards premieres Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.