Hang out with Nelly and see all the tech gadgets he can't live withoutKevin Frazier, co-anchor of OMG Insider, kicks it with Nelly at his home and talks music, cameras, and video games. Plus, CNET Senior Editor Brian Tong breaks down the best dSLR cameras for shooting video, and how to build your own recording studio.
-I'm Kevin Frazier and this is Hooked Up, the show where technology and celebrity collide, and today I'm hanging with my man Nelly. This is his digs when he's in Southern California and you know what, he's a St. Louis boy so I have to find out what Nelly has to have with him, what kind of technology keeps him rolling when he's on the road. So let's go inside. -Yo, man. -Nelly, how you doing? -I'm good. How are you? -So this is where you hang when you're in L.A. -Yes, a little bit. -You hide out a little bit. -Yes. Duck off on each other. -I hear you. -How you've been? -I've been good, man. You've been working out again, huh? Why you messing around with this? -Yes, yes, yes, yes. We got that in the back. -The rest in the back right there. After 14 years in the business, Nelly is a certified global hip-hop superstar. He's won 3 Grammys, sold over 22 million albums worldwide, and he's been certified golden platinum in more than 35 countries. He became a household name after the success of his solo 2000 release Country Grammar. The title track skyrocketed the album to number 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 8.4 million copies in the United States alone. And now he's about to hit the road again with his 7th studio album featuring his current hit single Hey, Porsche, but even when he travels Nelly stays up on his tech game. What kind of technology do you like to use? Like what are the things that you can't live without? -Well, I don't think anybody-- I mean it's kind of hard to be on the road without your laptop, without your Mac. -Right, right. -You know and I think that's probably the hardest thing to do outside of your phone. -Yes. -You know. We do have our portable Pro2 Series. -Right, sure. -We keep our Canon, you know, just in case you wanna make a video. -Do you shoot a lot of stuff when you're on the road? -Yes. We shoot anything you know. -Really? -We just shoot anything. Some of the stuff that you just putting out to go viral and you just reaching out for your fans and you're just touch them, yes. Mostly everything comes off the Canon. -Oh, man. You set it out. You got a little popcorn, a little lemonade. -Yes. I tried to act like I have some manners, man. -From his laptop to his camera, these are just a couple of the rapper's tech must-have on the go. Nel, these are few of your favorite tech gadgets. I wanna start with these headphones. -Right. -Right there. I mean these are a little ridiculous. Explain-- what is it? -You know what? I actually get you know turned on with these when I was in Dubai. I was coming through you know the terminal and all that and I needed some new headphone because my headphone got messed up and I saw them and I actually when I first look at it, I was like oh, look at these, these are probably piece of crap, right? -Yes. -And then I put them on and I was like holy yes I was like yo and I took them off and I was like show them to my brother like yo, you gotta hear this. It definitely like yo the sound in these are incredible. Just try-- -How much are these, Diamond Tears? -Oh, they run about 300. -Oh, wow. Okay. -They run about 300. -Nothing but it happened to you too. -Yes. -It is of course MacBook. -Yes. -You have your MacBook. -Yes, yes, yes. I'm not the first nor will I be the last to need a big Mac. You know what I'm saying, so right now I do a lot of my music on here because you know we just finished up the album. -Sure. -So you know I did a lot of, you know, organizing the sequence, checking out different mixes and things of that version. -Nelly's camera of choice when he's shooting video on the road, the Canon 7D. -This is what I try to tell everybody. This is the new standard. -That is the new standard. You do everything with that, that Canon you know, family, music, videos, you can do everything with that and that we shot a bunch of viral videos, just some studio videos and things like that with that camera there but you can do anything, man, with it. -So as you heard, Nelly likes to shoot a lot of his viral videos with his Canon 7D while my man Brian Tong from CNET, the senior editor is right here with us now. Thanks for coming to my world, man. -Oh, I love coming out to your neck of the woods and you know it's a beautiful place for you. -Can you tell us about not only Nelly's cameras, but some of the alternatives if Nelly needed to perhaps step up his camera game? -Well, you know, I know Nelly has some nice gear but you could really step it up and we're gonna start off with our top pick. This is the Canon 5D Mark III. This is a great camera by the way. It's great in low lighting situations. Also the autofocus is fast. It does have some features really specific to video so there's a headphone jack on it, there's also the audio levels that display on the screen, so this is really for the filmmaker on the go, the Canon 5D Mark III. That thing does it all. -Oh, there's Canon folks and then there are Nikon folks. -Yes. So on the Nikon side, you wanna check out the Nikon D800. Now this is just under $3,000 so it's a little cheaper than what Canon puts out there. Some of the best image quality out of any camera, the 36-megapixel CMOS sensors, so you're gonna get amazing photos, amazing video and so that's a standout on the Nikon side. -Okay. So what about someone that's a little more budget conscious? -We've got you covered there. We want you guys to take a look at the Canon T5i. -Yes. -Now this is a camera really for the entry level, so it's for someone who's just getting into DSLR photography, so what that means is you get not only the body but the lens at the same time. It's $900. It also has kind of a flip-out LCD screen, so this just makes it really easy to use as well as it's personal in a different way so definitely check out on the T5i if you're a starting photographer or a video maker that wants to use a DSLR. -And by the way, you also see all these action videos now. What's the deal if you wanna break into the action route? -We can just forget about DSLRs when you come down to that. We're talking about the GoPro HERO3. This is just an amazing camera you haven't seen. It's about just yay big. They start out at $199 and you can mount them on like a bike. You can put them on a surfboard. You can put it on a helmet to get these just amazing first-person perspectives and that's a really hot pick that's not a DSLR but still does amazing video. -You know what I love? There's so much technology just percolating inside your head. -It comes from the hair. -Is that what-- I knew it's the hair. -That's what it is. That's what it is. -It's the hair. See. It's not just sexy. It also has a tech thing into it. -Why thank you. Thank you, Kevin. -Brian Tong always good. Let's get back to Nelly. I gotta go. All right, but thanks for coming to hang out with me. -All right. -I'll see you. How long have you been playing video games? -I've been playing video games forever, man. You know I'm one of those-- I'm probably one of the first gen, I come from the first-generation video game. -No, I'm the first generation. -Yes, all right. Okay. Well I'm probably 2nd generation. -Right. -Somewhere around there. -Yes. I'm a little bit older. -Yes. So you know we come in from you know I was a baby when Ataris and the ColecoVisions came out. -Oh yes. Yes, yes. -And then like I caught my stride riding the Nintendo phase. -Yes. -You know so I was just telling somebody else in there. I was like there's nobody under 30 that could beat me in Super Mario Brothers. -Really? -You know why. -And then there's this. -Yes. 2K13, man. -Who's your team on here? -Listen, I'm a huge Jordan fan and I play with Mike. I play with the 97-98 Mike. I play with the 96-- -Any Mike. -97 Mike, any Mike I'm playing. -Pre-baseball, post-baseball. -Yes. -Any Mike. -Any one of them. -Do you have any other favorite games on your-- and you love Xbox right? -Well, of course. -Yes. -Xbox is the deal, man. -Of course you know you love the Madden. -Yes. -You know. I know you were turning me on to the FIFA. -You gotta get with the FIFA. -So I gotta check that out. Snooze has been telling me about the FIFA too. So I definitely you know you're not the first one to come here raving about that, so I better get on before I get too late. -Yes. Don't be too late. -Yes. -Because you know it costs to learn. -Once you start getting behind and then everybody starts smacking you around, you know, you got it. It takes you about 4 or 5 months to learn what the hell you're doing so I'm gonna get on it early. -By the way, just because since you're 2nd generation-- -Yes. -Do you wanna get a piece of 1st generation? -You don't wanna do that. This is-- -No. Let's just-- -It's been a good trip for you around. I don't know why you weren't invited here. -You know what's interesting is like I always have folks that wanna talk dumb to me. -Yes. -They don't understand. I grew up on this. -I'm taking this. -All right. Take it with you. -Not because I want it, but because there's about to be a movie. -And by the way, go look up 2K04. Who was the announcer on that? Oh, oh. -That's old news, Kevin. -Row row time. More of my Xbox showdown with Nelly after the break. In addition to his music career, Nelly is an accomplished entrepreneur. He co-founded the Vatterott College ExTreme Institute, a St. Louis school for students wishing to learn the ins and outs of the music business. You know a lot of people don't know but you built a school. -Yes. -Tell folks out there. They don't understand-- -Yes. -About your school. -Well, I partnered up with a school by the name of Vatterott College and a young lady by the name of Pam Bell who is the president over there. -We opened it about 2 years ago. We have about 225 students currently. -Once I got with Pam, we got together and we just came up with this thing called ExTreme Institute, E.I. for short. And what we do is we teach kids how to be engineers, how to mix, how to master, how to produce, make beats, the behind-the-scenes of making people like me, you know. -E. I. by Nelly offers students an environment found only in the most elite recording studios in the world. What kind of equipment do you have in there because they're working with state of the art-- -Everything is state of the art, everything is first rate, everything that everybody uses right to this day, everything that Nelly uses to record on, all the way to what a Kanye West may use to record on, everything from you know Jay-Z, Beyonce, everything is state of the art. -The crown jewel of the school, Studio X, just over a thousand square feet, the studio is constructed on floating floors to ensure the highest quality in sound recording. -We had a famous architect come out of New York to build this for. It's actually a room within a room within a room and has about 800 pucks that you're floating on from the floor. -We also have a piece of history in there. We were able to get a mixing board from the original Hit Factory out in New York. -Yes, yes, yes. -And we got a piece of that and it's you know it's actually in St. Louis so that's our mixing board that we have in our big room. -With its high tech features, the studio is also available to other artists and has been used to record by Nelly himself. -Inside that studio you can capture that Nelly sound. -Yes, you can capture that sound. -What helps you get that Nelly sound? Are there any pieces of equipment that you must have to get the Nelly sound? -Well, the Sony 800 is the microphone that I love, you know. We probably run it through the Avalon and we got a couple of other gadgets, you know, a little Melodyne and things like that that kind of smooth out the voice. -Oh. That's it. The little tricks of the trade. -Yes. You gotta have a little tracks of the trade. You gotta use all that technology now, man. If not, you're kind of behind. -So now we know how Nelly keeps it moving when he's in the studio laying down tracks, and I have a special little treat for you. I want you to check out the video for his new single I'm gonna share it with you right now. Hold on. So let's go search. We go N-E-L-L-Y. -Okay, okay. I wanna hear what you think about Nelly's new jam. I'm gonna post the video to my Facebook page, let me know do you love it, do you hate it, are you gonna roll with it. You get it, Porsche. Anyway, let's check in with my man B.T., Brian Tong of CNET and can you tell us about all this crazy technology around me in the studio? -All right. Thanks, Kev. Now we heard how Nelly talked about his recording studio, so we wanted to show you how you can create your own mobile version on the go and really it starts with a laptop that is really the heart of this system. So what we recommend is a MacBook Pro 15-inch, not the retina display and the reason why is this guy comes packed with 500 gigabytes of storage. It costs $1799 which is cheaper and then you can bump up the RAM to 8 gigabytes which is what I would recommend. It's just 100 extra dollars and this really gives you a full system with a big screen that you can use to create your music. Now once you have that set up, you'll need an audio interface and this is where we recommend the Mbox Mini with Pro Tools Express. Pro Tools is the software side of it. The Mbox Mini, this is where you add all your instruments, something like a microphone and you record through this box. It goes to your computer and that's how you start making sweet music and that bundle costs $299. Now once you have that set up, you wanna check out a microphone, really the standard for a home recording studio, kind of a project home studio when you just get started, we recommend the Rode NT1-A. This is the condenser mic and it really sets the bar in a great value at $229 for this microphone setup. And the next piece of this puzzle is a keyboard so check out the M-Audio Axiom 25. This is a 25-key MIDI controller. It also has 8 trigger pads so you can punch out beats and also putting in some samples at the same time. This costs $199 but this really brings everything together. So let's break all this down and assume that you have a computer that's compatible. What we're gonna do is start off with the Mbox with Pro Tools; that's gonna be $299. Then we have the Road condenser mic; that's $229 and then the M-Audio Axiom 25, that keyboard you have; that's gonna be $199, but I like to throw in a little addition. If you want some really great studio headphones so check out the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s, these are great for mixing sound and you can get them for around $119 on Amazon. So we're gonna add all that up and it comes out to just under $850 and there's your mobile recording studio and that's how we Hook You Up. Back to you, Kev. -So, Nelly and I had to settle a few things before I left. We're gonna take care of some business now. We're gonna play a little NBA 2K13. -All right. -Not that I'm a Boston fan, but I just wanted to give him a taste of an old school team. -This is-- all his Laker family and friends, all his LA family and friends, you see he poured out the Celts. -They didn't have the 2000 Lakers. I wanted 2000 Lakers. -Sat down beside him all you Laker fans. You see this. -I know I feel a little sick. -He's got his green shirt on. We're finding out-- -I do feel a little sick. -We're finding out the real Kevin over here. -Yes, let's go. -Ready? -Are we about to find out the real Nelly? -Get ready to start. -Are you going with the Lakers? -Yes. -I could go with Dominique but I'm not gonna do it. -No, no. You're afraid of Mike, you got Mike. -No, I'm not afraid. -And you're switching up on Mike. -Oh, man. -Wait until you here from Mike. -Okay. Gee and talk to yourself into an ass. Come on. I'm ready. -Bring Mike. -Mike is back. -Oh. -The worm. -It's early. It's early. There you go. -Pippen? Yo, that dude shoot that. Damn there's too many. -Not so easy, Mike. -Hey. -That's good defense right there. There it is. -There you go. You got 8 points. -I'm getting rock right now, but I'm gonna come back. I got a little play. -You got little-- -Come on. Come on. Come on. That's craziness. Nelly, thanks so much for letting us come out and hang out with you inside your Southern California digs, and by the way I'm not going out like that. I knew I shouldn't taken the Celtics. Nothing worse than a 2K13 beatdown. Anyway, I'm Kevin Frazier and we'll see you next time on Hooked Up.