Nelly, the rapper who rose to prominence with an array of chart-toppers in the ‘90s and early aughts, was arrested early Saturday morning on a second-degree rape charge after a woman claims he sexually violated her aboard his tour bus in Seattle.
The hip-hop artist’s lawyer denied the allegation, telling TMZ, “Nelly is the victim of a completely fabricated allegation. Our initial investigation clearly establishes the allegation is devoid of credibility and is motivated by greed and vindictiveness. I am confident, once the scurrilous accusation is thoroughly investigated, there will be no charges. Nelly is prepared to pursue all legal avenues to redress any damage caused by this clearly false allegation.”
The rapper has been on tour with Florida Georgia Line, a popular country-pop duo from Tennessee. And the news broke during what feels like a scary time in popular culture, as a string of powerful men stand accused of sexually abusing and violating vulnerable women.
In the wake of his headline-grabbing arrest, several creepy videos of the rapper resurfaced online. One Twitter user shared this video. The short clip sees Nelly positioned on stage, using a performance tactic employed by many a male artist before him: Serenading, sweet-talking, and being flirtatious with a female audience member they chose to bring up on stage.
But something about this video is shockingly, disturbingly different: the recipient of his advances is a young girl, unquestionably below the age of 18, who appears to be visibly frightened and uncomfortable.
“I appreciate you being here tonight, can I do that?” Nelly asks, as music starts playing in the background. “How you doing? You okay? Have you started school already? Do you like your teacher?” he continues, clearly aware of her age. “Come here, stand right here—face me.”
As the young female turns to face him, Nelly leans in closely. At this point, their faces are nearly touching, and he begins to take her hair in his hand, twirling it and smiling as he brushes up against it. Another Twitter user responded with a similar video from Nelly’s recent concert in Montana, noting that he performed the same eerie act just a few weeks prior.
Nelly was slated to perform tonight in Washington, but it’s safe to say that’s no longer happening.