Before St. Louis, Missouri star rapper Nelly found success with Fo’ Reel/Universal Records in the late ’90s, the former minor league baseball player was turned down a reported 10 times by recording labels.

After six releases with the New York-based UMG, Nelly recently took time to acknowledge Hip Hop independent Macklemore, who with Ryan Lewis, is approaching platinum status on the self-released 2012 album, The Heist. “You know why I like [Macklemore]? Because he’s independent,” Nelly told Charlotte, North Carolina’s Kiss 95.1 radio station. “I respect hustle… I know what it’s like to sit there and have labels tell you that your talent isn’t good enough to make it.”

Nelly added that labels, including his own, are likely bothered by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ commercial success and mainstream acceptance. “For someone like Macklemore to do it independently and to really just give the middle finger up to the labels now, it’s awesome.”

Nelly, who is part of the Charlotte Bobcats ownership team (along with Michael Jordan) is currently trying to change the team’s name, possibly back to the Charlotte Hornets, who left the city a decade ago.

Nelly is expected to release his seventh album, M.O., in October.

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