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"Dilemma" is a song by American rapper Nelly, featuring American singer Kelly Rowland. It was released on June 25, 2002 as the third single from Nelly's second studio album Nellyville (2002), and the lead single from Rowland's debut solo studio album Simply Deep (2002), becoming one of the best selling singles of all time. The song depicts the declaration of forbidden love by a female lover in a committed relationship, and the predicament the male protagonist must face.[2]

"Dilemma"
Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland - Dilemma CD cover.jpg
Single by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland
from the album Nellyville and Simply Deep
B-side"Kings Highway"
ReleasedJune 25, 2002
Format
Recorded2002
Genre
Length
  • 4:49 (album version)
  • 3:55 (radio edit)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)The Nimrods
Nelly singles chronology
"Hot in Herre"
(2002)
"Dilemma"
(2002)
"Air Force Ones"
(2002)
Kelly Rowland singles chronology
"Separated"
(2000)
"Dilemma"
(2002)
"Stole"
(2002)
Music video
"Dilemma ft. Kelly Rowland" on YouTube

During the 55th Anniversary of the US Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine, the song was ranked at number seventy-five on the all-time Hot 100 songs[3] while at the end of 2009 was named the eleventh most successful song from 2000 to 2009, on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade.[4] The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards on 23 February 2003. "Dilemma" was accredited internationally with sixteen certifications.

Background and releaseEdit

In 2002, producer Ryan Bowser created an instrumental which sampled and contained elements from Patti LaBelle's "Love, Need and Want You" (1983). Upon hearing the beat, given to him by St. Louis producer Antoine "Bam" Macon, Nelly began writing lyrics and then wrote a song out from it. He then decided to make the song a last-minute addition to his second album Nellyville, which had already been completed prior to Bam giving him the track.[5] Once Nelly returned to the studio to record the track, his vision changed, wanting to add a female vocal onto it. He instantly thought of Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland, whom he had met during the TRL tour in 2001. Nelly called Rowland by phone and agreed. After a few days of recording, during which Rowland re-recorded her part many times to achieve it "just right", "Dilemma" was completed.[5]

Once Nellyville was released in the United States on June 25, 2002, radio programmers started playing "Dilemma". By July 2002, the track had reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 based on airplay alone. This prompted Nelly to release it as the album's second single, although it was not the original plan.[6] The single was released on July 30, 2002. The decision affected the early plans for Destiny's Child members, whose members were held on hiatus to pursue solo album releases. As part of their strategy, each member's albums were to be staggered with member Beyoncé Knowles releasing in October 2002 and Rowland's album expected in early 2003.[6] Their management rescheduled the dates: Rowland eventually released her debut solo album, Simply Deep, on October 28, 2002, ahead of Knowles, which caused her to move and push back her album release to a June 2003 date. "Dilemma" was released as the first single from the album, which served as a propeller for her solo career.[5] "Dilemma" is Rowland's first international solo single away from the group: she had previously appeared on R&B singer Avant's single "Separated", which was released in the United States in July 2000.

Critical receptionEdit

"Dilemma" was generally well received by critics. AllMusic reviewer Jason Birchmeier noted it as one of "three well-calculated, standout" tracks in the album.[7] In her review for Simply Deep, Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian wrote: "Thanks to the ubiquitous Dilemma, a song that practically peeled off its clothes on the spot."[8]

"Dilemma" was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance and Record of the Year at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards on 23 February 2003, winning the former.

Commercial performanceEdit

"Dilemma" is the most successful song of Nelly's career, giving him his first number-one single in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. It is also the most successful single of Rowland's career, alongside the worldwide dance hit "When Love Takes Over". It is not only Rowland's most successful solo single in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, with 800,000 copies sold as of November 2011.[9][10]

The single became a hit in the summer and fall of 2002 in the United States. While "Hot in Herre" was peaking on the charts, radio stations already started to play "Dilemma" in July 2002. It quickly climbed up the US Billboard charts and replaced "Hot in Herre" at number one after seven weeks on the Hot 100, giving Nelly his second consecutive number one from Nellyville. The song had already reached number one on the Hot 100 before a video was ever shot as Nelly's record label did not expect the song to explode so fast and expected they could take their time with the video. The song made its debut on the Billboard charts the week of July 6, 2002, it opened at numbers 66 and 63 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts, respectively.[11] The next week, on July 13, 2002, it debuted at number 51 on the Radio Songs chart, it also opened at number 53 on the Hot 100 the same week.[12] After four weeks, on August 17, 2002, it reached number one on the Hot 100, staying there for ten weeks and remaining on the chart for 29 weeks.[13][14] With this song Nelly replaced himself from the top of the chart, his last single, Hot In Herre, dropped to number two while Dilemma moved from number two to number one.[15][16] The song also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, Mainstream Top 40, Radio Songs and R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts.[17][18][19][20] While "Dilemma" exploded at urban contemporary, rhythmic contemporary and contemporary hit radio, it managed to crossover to urban adult contemporary radio stations such as KJLH Los Angeles which added "Dilemma" in rotation on the week of July 8, 2002, following a positive response from younger listeners.

In the United Kingdom the single debuted at number one on October 26, 2002, and stayed at the top of the chart for two weeks, it remained on the chart for twenty four weeks.[21][22] It was the twenty-second best-selling single of the 2000–09 decade in the United Kingdom.[23]

Music videoEdit

BackgroundEdit

 
Backlot street Colonial Street, which stood in as Nellyville, as Wisteria Lane on the ABC show Desperate Housewives (2006)[24]
 
The music video for "Dilemma" shows Kelly Rowland using a Nokia 9210 Communicator to text Nelly, which would be later ridiculed for its use of a Microsoft Excel-like spreadsheet application to portray instant messaging.

The accompanying music video for "Dilemma" was directed by Benny Boom.[25] It was filmed from August 19–21, 2002 on Colonial Street, one of the backlot street sets at Universal Studios Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County, California.[26] A street of long film history, it has been featured in dozens of movies and television productions, most prominently from 2004 to 2012, when it served as the fictional Wisteria Lane during the filming of the ABC television series Desperate Housewives.[26] Then-Golden State Warriors' guard and St. Louis native Larry Hughes makes a cameo in the video as Rowland's boyfriend, while entertainer Patti LaBelle whose song "Love, Need and Want You" from her 1983 album I'm in Love Again "Dilemma" was built around, was cast as Rowland's mother.[24]

Named after its parent album, the music video is set in the fictional middle class African-American town of Nellyville. It begins with several shots of the neighborhood, while the same-titled Nellyville album track is played as the intro to the clip during the first seconds. Rowland and LaBelle portray a mother-daughter pair who move in across the street from resident Nelly. Instantly attracted by the former, he calls his friends over to help them carrying their boxes into the house.[24] However, Rowland's character has a boyfriend and a child, both complicating their interest in each other.[24] Commenting on the plot, Rowland added: "It's just chemistry from there on [...] He [Nelly] wants to talk to me but I can't do it. It puts us in a dilemma, which is the name of the song. And the video tells the story perfectly."[24]

The final video premiered at the end of MTV's Making the Video episode in September 2002. "Dilemma" was later featured as an enhanced video on the European maxi single as well as on the 2007 Wal-Mart exclusive Kelly Rowland DVD BET Presents Kelly Rowland. At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, it was nominated for Best R&B Video.[27] At one point in the "Dilemma" video, Rowland can be seen attempting to text Nelly via the spreadsheet application on her Nokia 9210 Communicator.[a] Preceding instant messaging services such as WhatsApp, it became a prominent internet meme in the mid-2010s. Further elaborating on this in an interview with Australian talk show The Project in November 2016, Nelly said. "That was the thing at the time! That was the new technology at the time. It looks a little dated now."[29]

ReceptionEdit

In a retrospective review, Ashley Perkins of Vibe mentions how "the 4XL tee and headband-sported video adds just the right amount of dramatization to allow a glimpse into how much of a dilemma Nelly and Kelly’s situationship was." She further explained that the narrative was explained "in a light other than from the perspective of the frustrated and faithful counterpart or the creeping side piece", which would later be replicated in songs such as "Situationships" by Fabolous, and "Distraction".[30]

In other mediaEdit

The song was featured in About Time, as well as a background music for the Realme 5 Pro commercial, with Bryce Dallas Howard.

Remixes and sequelEdit

The official remix was produced by Jermaine Dupri and features Kelly Rowland and Ali of the St. Lunatics. It was included on Nelly's remix album Da Derrty Versions: The Reinvention.

On December 16, 2009, Nelly recorded a new track titled "Gone" with Rowland, which he dubbed "Dilemma Part 2", the sequel to "Dilemma". The track was produced by Jim Jonsin and written by Rico Love, and was included on Nelly's album 5.0 (2010).[31]

Track listingsEdit

Official versionsEdit

  • "Dilemma" (album version / dirty / album version – explicit) – 4:49
  • "Dilemma" (clean album version / clean) – 4:49
  • "Dilemma" (radio edit) – 3:59
  • "Dilemma" (instrumental) – 4:49
  • "Dilemma" (DJ Deuse remix) – 4:15
  • "Dilemma" (G4orce radio edit) – 3:30
  • "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins remix edit) – 4:30
  • "Dilemma" (Jason Nevins club mix) – 6:21

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[81] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[82] Gold 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[83] Platinum 50,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[84] Gold 45,000^
France (SNEP)[85] Gold 250,000*
Germany (BVMI)[86] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[87] Gold 40,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[88] Platinum 10,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[89] 2× Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[90] Gold 15,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[91] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[93] 2× Platinum 942,600[92]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Papi Sánchez versionEdit

"Dilema"
Single by Papi Sánchez
from the album Yeah Baby!
B-side"Dejame ser"
ReleasedAugust 2004
FormatCD single
GenreMerengue
LabelSony BMG
Songwriter(s)
  • Cornell Haynes, Jr.
  • Antoine Macon
  • Kenneth Gamble
  • Bunny Sigler
Papi Sánchez singles chronology
"Enamórame"
(2003)
"Dilema"
(2004)
"Mano' Pa' Arriba"
(2006)

The song has been covered by Papi Sánchez, in Spanish, under the title "Dilema". This version was released in August 2004 as the second single form his album Yeah Baby!. It was a minor hit in comparison with the original version.

Track listingsEdit

CD single
  1. "Dilema"
  2. "Dejame ser"

ChartsEdit

Chart (2004–05) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[94] 16
Belgium (Ultratop Wallonia)[95] 8
France (SNEP)[96] 20
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[97] 66
US Latin Tropical Airplay (Billboard)[98] 35

Sigma versionEdit

"Dilemma"
Single by Sigma
Released12 July 2019 (2019-07-12)
Format
Genre
Length2:40
Label3Beat
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Sigma
Sigma singles chronology
"Here We Go Again"
(2019)
"Dilemma"
(2019)
"You and Me as One"
(2019)

A remix of the song by British-based drum and bass record producers Sigma was released to streaming and digital download formats on 12 July 2019, through 3 Beat Records.

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format Label
Various 12 July 2019 3Beat

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Whilst most sources reported the application used by Rowland for "texting" Nelly as "Microsoft Excel", she actually used the default Symbian OS Spreadsheet application.[28] This is, however, compatible with Excel .xls spreadsheets.

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit