With Nelly’s debut LP, Country Grammar, already six-times platinum and counting, the St. Louis rapper is attempting to continue his winning streak with Free City, the forthcoming album by the St. Lunatics. The group includes MCs Nelly, Kyjuan, Murphy Lee, Ali, hype man Slo Down, and the incarcerated City Spud (Nelly’s younger brother).

As the June 5th release date for City Spud (a reference to the St. Lunatics’ efforts to free City Spud from prison) draws closer, fans and critics alike have begun to refer to the St. Lunatics as Nelly’s group. However, in a recent interview, the 22-year-old Nelly brushed off critics and explained that the St. Lunatics were family before the chart success of Country Grammar

“Critics are going to be critics. That’s what they do. That’s their job,” said Nelly. “It’s not Nelly and the St. Lunatics, and it’s been like that from jump. We all do individual solo projects as well as the group album. So it ain’t nothing where the Country Grammar album was out of the blue or nothing like that. It was just like we chose, we are going to crack the door open and then we are going to bull it open. And that’s the pattern and plan we’ve been taking, and that’s what working so far, so that’s what we are sticking to.”

The lead single from Free City, “Midwest Swing,” is in stores now.