Nelly v. Ludacris: Before the #Verzuz Battle, Check Their Chart Battle

Ahead of tomorrow’s (May 16) #Verzuz Instagram Live battle between hip-hop heavyweights Nelly and Ludacris, Billboard revisits the pair’s chart careers to pinpoint some likely candidates to make each act’s showdown set list.

On one side of your screen, Nelly, who established St. Louis’ commercial viability in hip-hop with an impressive streak of hit albums and singles in the 2000s. That run kicked off with “(Hot Sh*t) Country Grammar,” his Billboard chart debut in March 2000. The instant smash flew to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and four weeks atop Hot Rap Songs) and set up parent album Country Grammar for a five-week stay atop the Billboard 200 later that summer.

Summer 2002 gave Nelly his hottest chart run, with sophomore album Nellyville debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Lead single “Hot in Herre” became his first Hot 100 No. 1, with its domination ended only by… second Nellyville single “Dilemma,” featuring Kelly Rowland, which claimed 10 nonconsecutive weeks on top. The switch made the rapper only the fifth act to ever knock himself from the summit.

Beyond his own hits, Nelly maintained a constant presence through featured verses on other hits, including Jagged Edge (“Where The Party At,” No. 3), ‘N SYNC (“Girlfriend,” No. 5), Janet Jackson (“Call on Me, No. 25). Plus, he headed west and locked in two high-profile country partnerships, with Tim McGraw (“Over and Over,” No. 3) and Florida Georgia Line (“Cruise,” No. 4).

Let’s dive into the top performers of the St. Louis superstar’s catalog:

Song Title, Other Artists (if any), Peak Position, Peak Date
1. “Dilemma,” featuring Kelly Rowland, No. 1 (10 weeks), Aug. 17, 2002
2. “Hot in Herre,” No. 1 (seven weeks), June 29, 2002
3. “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” with P. Diddy & Murphy Lee, No. 1 (four weeks), Sept. 6, 2003
4. “Grillz,” featuring Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp, No. 1 (two weeks), Jan. 21, 2006
5. “Just a Dream,” No. 3, Oct. 23, 2010
6. “Cruise” (Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly), No. 4, Jun. 6, 2013
7. “Over and Over,” featuring Tim McGraw, No. 3, Dec. 4, 2004
8. “Where The Party At” (Jagged Edge featuring Nelly) No. 3, Sept. 15, 2001
9. “Ride Wit Me,” featuring City Spud, No. 3, June 23, 2001
10. “My Place,” featuring Jaheim, No. 4, Sept. 4, 2004

On the other half of your screen, we’ll have Atlanta’s own Ludacris. Like his opponent, he too attached his name to Billboard’s charts in 2000, thanks to his Southern classic “What’s Your Fantasy,” featuring Shawnna. The track made it to No. 21 on the Hot 100, the first of Ludacris’ 56 career entries on the list. More hits arrived in the following years, including “Roll Out (My Business) [No. 17]” and “Move B***h” (No. 10), but it was the rapper’s next Shawnna-featured single that unlocked the penthouse. 2003’s “Stand Up” climbed to No. 1 on the Hot 100, the first of Ludacris’ five leaders.

“Up” ushered in Ludacris’ most successful era, a period in which he expanded his reach as an in-demand featured act. He scored Hot 100 hits teaming with R&B acts such as Ciara (“Oh,” No. 2) and Jamie Foxx (“Unpredictable,” No. 8), pop stars like Fergie (“Glamorous,” No. 1) and Justin Bieber (“Baby,” No. 5) and even country collaborators Carrie Underwood (“The Champion,” No. 47) and Jason Aldean (“Dirt Road Anthem,” No. 7). In the same time, he scored four champs on the Billboard 200 – Chicken n Beer, The Red Light District, Release Therapy and Battle of The Sexes.

With another of those all-star pairings, “Yeah!,” with Usher and Lil Jon, leading the pack, here’s a look at the ATL native’s biggest hits on the Hot 100:

Song Title, Other Artists (if any), Peak Position, Peak Date
1. “Yeah!” (Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris), No. 1 (12 weeks), Feb. 28, 2004
2. “Stand Up,” featuring Shawnna, No. 1 (one week), Dec. 6, 2003
3. “Break Your Heart” (Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris), No. 1 (one week), March 20, 2010
4. “Glamorous” (Fergie featuring Ludacris), No. 1 (two weeks), March 24, 2007
5. “Money Maker,” featuring Pharrell, No. 1 (two weeks), Oct. 28, 2006
6. “Lovers and Friends” (Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz featuring Usher & Ludacris), No. 3, Jan. 22, 2005
7. “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You) (Enrique Iglesias featuring Ludacris & DJ Frank E), No. 4, Feb. 5, 2011
8. “Oh” (Ciara featuring Ludacris), No. 2, May 21, 2005
9. “Holidae In” (Chingy featuring Ludacris & Snoop Dogg), No. 3, Nov. 8, 2003
10. “How Low,” No. 6, Feb. 13, 2010

Key takeaways? On paper, the pair looks evenly matched. Both debuted on the Billboard charts within three months of the other and are very close count in terms of No. 1s (5-4 for Ludacris) and top 10s (18-14 in Luda’s favor), with Ludacris edging ahead thanks to more featured spots.

Both, too, have boosted their catalog stats with material beyond their own hip-hop hits, with multiple hits through guest turns pop tracks, R&B jams, and hey! They could even contest a mini-showdown of their country collaborations.

Nelly and Ludacris’s Biggest Billboard Hot 100 hits are based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 through May 16, 2020. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted to account for different chart turnover rates over various periods.