It's been eight years since Nelly lost his sister Jackie to leukemia, and he's still hurt not only over the loss of his loved one, but a boycott from students who could have potentially saved her life.
Back in 2003, after Nelly's sister Jacqueline Donahue was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, he launched a "Jes Us 4 Jackie" campaign to find a bone marrow donor that could potentially have saved her life. Unfortunately, Jackie lost her battle with cancer in 2005, a year after Nelly performed at a bone marrow drive at Spelman College where he was met with female protesters who were upset about his sexually explicit and misogynistic music video for his single "Tip Drill." Wanting to have an open conversation with Nelly right then and there, a group of women protested the drive, which Nelly said could have turned away someone who could have saved Jackie's life.
Last week, during a sit-down with Marc Lamont Hill of HuffPost Live, Nelly grew angry as he relived the incident. He told the host that he's all for chopping it up about what people think about his music and videos, but they picked the wrong time and place, especially when he was trying to do right by the community. Plus, he says he hasn't heard a word from them since and his sister is gone, so was the issue really that serious?
Catch the highlights:
[The protesters] approach me with this conversation while I'm doing that drive. Why would you want to talk about that now when I'm trying to save lives? That was my whole issue. Don't get it twisted, it wasn't the whole Spelman. There was a group of young ladies that decided that this was the time that they picked to make this move. It just felt so wrong to me because here I am losing time trying to save someone special to me, and you want to talk about a video.
You spent hours and hours playing my videos when you could have spent hours getting people signed up on bone marrow registries and finding donors for people who needed these stem cells transplants. I just felt like the priority wasn't in the right place. But I understand if they had a problem with that, I had no problem talking to them.
On the ladies thinking he should have addressed their issues before the bone marrow benefit
How can you compare that? You trying to tell me that I have to have a conversation about a video before we take care of bone marrow? What's more important here? If anything you should have did it the other way around. You should say, 'Yo, what's more important?' I say that because you protested...are you still protesting that right now? Because I don't have my sister now. You see what I'm saying? You're probably not even protesting right now, and half of y'all that was protesting are probably in them clubs dancing to them songs on the weekends that you're protesting about.
On what he would have done differently
The Spelman thing, the only thing I feel I would’ve did different is kick somebody’s a--. That’s just how it felt to me. I don’t have my sister and I doubt it if half of those girls are still campaigning for what they quote, unquote took advantage for that opportunity for. You robbed me of a opportunity. Unfairly, my brother. That was unfairly. Because we could’ve still had your conversation after I got my opportunity, but it could’ve been somebody that was coming to that bone marrow drive that day, that was possibly a match for my sister. That didn’t come because of that. That conversation could be held anytime.
That conversation is easy. They don't want to have that conversation because the truth of the matter is Spelman is in about a six block [radius] of about three or four strip clubs that I don't see them protesting at one time.[...]If it's really that important, why aren't you out protesting at one of the strip clubs? Why aren't you going to some of those young ladies that are actually participating in your college and talk to them?
When it comes to health issues in our community, the urban community, we're already a little timid on it. We don't step up. We don't get regularly check ups. We don't volunteer for as much blood drives and bone marrows as we should, knowing that we have more multiple matches out of any race that walks this planet and we could help more. We don't get to that because we are so timid.
I don't think hip hop made the wrong turn. What I think is outlets upon which hip hop is being reported is only reporting that side. Every hip hop artist I know has a non-profit organization and does things in their community. You don't report that. You see what I'm saying? We don't get a chance to -- if I come on the show, they want to spend 30 minutes talking about "Tip Drill" and five minutes talking about the school that I was able to build. They want to spend 15 minutes talking about misogyny in hip hop, and they want to spend two minutes on how my bone marrow drive helped save seven lives. We're easy targets.
We come from those neighborhoods. We're always giving back. We're always in our neighborhoods. If you look at someone like Kevin Hart...he's in comedy but he's hip hop. He's our generation. He hangs out with us. He just donated $250,000 of his own money to Philadelphia schools. Again, I was able to form an [accredited] college in the state of Missouri to where we give out Associate degrees and we teach kids how to be producers, engineer, master. Teach them entertainment business 101 and things like that, but you don't get that.
Watch the interview below: