This was the first big release for Kelly Rowland away from her group, Destiny's Child. Nelly was an established star and hot on the charts, but Rowland was not widely known on her own. This was a good way to introduce her as a solo artist and get her ready for her first album.
The song depicts the declaration of forbidden love by a female lover in a committed relationship, and the predicament the male protagonist must face. 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.
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"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".
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