Robert Sylvester Kelly (born January 8, 1967 in Chicago, Illinois), who goes by the stage name of R. Kelly, is a successful R&B singer-songwriter and record producer who came to dominate the R&B music scene throughout the 1990s and in the current decade. A very successful hitmaker, his hits include "Bump & Grind" (1994), "I Believe I Can Fly" (1996), "Ignition" (2003) and "Trapped in the Closet" (2005).
- 1 Biography
- 2 Trivia
- 3 Discography
- 4 Grammy Awards
- 5 See also
- 6 External links
Born into poverty and distress in Chicago's Southside projects, young Robert Kelly and his two brothers and sister and mother Joanne struggled to survive in the streets. After a shooting by a mugger as a teenager, Kelly looked to basketball and music to get him away from the atmosphere that had consumed so many young Black individuals in the projects. Guided by his teacher Lena McLin, Kelly entered a career in music after wowing his high school friends singing the classic ballad, "Ribbon in the Sky" at a talent show.
By 1990, Kelly had started to develop his sound playing his keyboards and becoming a street performer. He released his first single "Why You Wanna Play Me" with the group MGM on Tavdash Records in 1990. His manager at the time, David Hyatt, introduced him to Wayne Williams at Jive Records. Sometime around 1991 he met Barry Hankerson. Hankerson became his full time manager after David Hyatt was arrested by the FBI and accused of spearheading a large midwest drug ring. He was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In late 1991 R. Kelly was introducted to Aaliyah, and his then group Public Announcement recorded much of what would be Born Into the '90s at a recording studio Kelly leased. Within a few months, songs like "She's Got that Vibe", "Slow Dance", "Dedicated", and "Honey Love" would be the featured songs in Born Into the '90s, which was released several days after Kelly's 25th birthday in January 1992. A huge R&B success, the album would yield the featured songs as the hits and would eventually go Platinum selling over a million copies.
12 Play and Aaliyah
By 1993, Kelly was on his own. It only took him a few months to cultivate the sounds that would fully launch the young musician as one of the singular great talents of music during much of the 1990s. Released that fall, 12 Play announced Kelly's mega-star status and yielded the smash hits "Sex Me", "Your Body's Calling" and the chart-topping sex romp "Bump & Grind". Kelly was now so big that by 1994 he was able to produce for other acts. He found some initial success with Aaliyah, producing the songs "Back and Forth" and Age Ain't Nothing but a Number off the album of the same name of the latter hit.
Kelly and Aaliyah allegedly married in 1994 despite the fact that Kelly was then 27 and Aaliyah only 15. The marriage was quickly annulled and Aaliyah ended her partnership with Kelly, going on to a hugely successful career that came to a tragic end when she died in a plane crash on August 25, 2001. Kelly's alleged antics of falling in love with teenaged women would continue to haunt the singer nearly ten years later, but at the time that marriage was brushed off to the side with the denials of their union by both singers.
R. Kelly: The Singer, Songwriter and Producer
R. Kelly later admitted that he and the late singer Aaliyah were indeed married. After his brush with controversy, Kelly returned to the studio to record his third album (his second solo effort) in the studio he now owned. He released his self-titled album in 1995, which was a big success like its predecessor, selling over 5 million copies and unleashing classics like "You Remind Me of Something" (a Top 5 Pop and #1 R&B record in 1995), "I Can't Sleep (Baby If I)" (a Top 10 Pop and R&B single in 1996) and his collaboration with legendary R&B singer Ronald Isley of the famed Isley Brothers, "Down Low" (a Top 10 pop and R&B record in 1996). The album was hailed by some as the singer's most mature record. Before then, people had perceived Kelly to be a sexual deviant because of the lyrics on 12 Play.
In 1995, Kelly found his huge success as a songwriter penning hits for R&B group Changing Faces and pop and R&B music legends Janet Jackson (producing the remix for Jackson's 1994 smash, "Any Time, Any Place") and Michael Jackson (penning and co-producing the single, "You Are Not Alone" for Jackson's HIStory album in 1995). The latter single became the first in music history to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 at #1.
"I Believe I Can Fly", R. and TP-2.Com
In 1996, fresh off the success of his own albums and off of producing hits for other artists, Kelly would release his most successful single ever with the theme song from the Michael Jordan movie, Space Jam - "I Believe I Can Fly". The inspirational song became a number two smash at the end of the year and helped Kelly win three Grammy Awards including Best R&B Song. He was also nominated in the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories for that particular song. Kelly took two years off from music until coming back with the ambitious double concept album, R. in 1998. That album featured a smash with pop superstar Céline Dion titled "I'm Your Angel", which became Kelly's second #1 single on the Billboard pop singles chart. It also featured the soul anthem for love-gone-wrong songs "When A Woman's Fed Up" and the Sam Cooke-inspired "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time". It also had appeal to the hip hop community, with guest appearances by Nas and The Notorious B.I.G.. R. would become Kelly's biggest-selling album in the U.S. selling over 8 million copies alone.
In 2000, Kelly returned to his lover man persona with TP-2.com, which stood for Twelve Play 2, a sequel to his 1993 classic album. Ironically the biggest singles weren't based on his sexual prowess - "I Wish" (a top 10 pop and #1 R&B record) was dedicated to the people Kelly adored who passed away including his mother and a best friend from the old days, and "Fiesta" (whose remix version featured acclaimed rapper Jay-Z and was a top 5 pop and #1 R&B single) was about partying. But the album's third-biggest single, the loose and humor-filled "Feelin' On Yo' Booty" was immediately comparable to Marvin Gaye in his post-Let's Get It On period and to Kelly's earlier hit "Bump & Grind".
The Best of Both Worlds at the Worst of Bad Times
He also became noted for his hooks on other artists' singles including a collaboration with the late Notorious B.I.G. on the single, "Fucking You Tonight", on the late rapper's Life After Death album and was the man to make hits off of songs for Puff Daddy (Satisfy) and Fat Joe (We Thuggin'). By a couple of years, his collaborations with Jay-Z finally led to what was supposed to be a history-making project as the rapper and the singer teamed up to record an album together. Released in 2002, The Best of Both Worlds debuted at #2 on the Billboard pop albums chart, but with a combination of no singles and a controversy regarding Kelly allegedly making a sex tape with an underage teenage girl, the album was a disappointment for both R. Kelly himself and for Jay-Z, who didn't want to be associated with the singer during his child pornography trial.
Alleged Sexual Indiscretions
The troubles following Kelly's alleged rapports with underage girls go as far back as 1991, when several young women had accused the singer of having sex with them. In 1994 and 1995, rumours surfaced that Kelly had married fellow singer, Aaliyah, which both Kelly and Aaliyah denied. However, none of the prior reports reached the level of publicity that followed the release of a video tape in February 2002 that allegedly showed Kelly and a 14-year-old daughter of an associate, and niece of a former Kelly protege, engaging in sex. The tape, released by an unknown source, was sent to the Chicago Sun Times, the newspaper that broke the story. While witnesses have identified Kelly and the girl, the alleged girl herself and her parents have denied that she is the person shown on the tape. Bootleg copies of the tape became widely available on the black market and hence via file sharing networks. The tape showed numerous sex acts, including the girl being urinated on. In June 2002, Kelly was indicted in Chicago for seven counts of soliciting a minor for child pornography, seven counts of videotaping the acts, and seven counts of producing child pornography. Currently, Kelly is now facing only 14 of the charges.
In addition to those charges, Kelly was further indicted in Florida in January 2003 on twelve counts of possession of child pornography. However, the charges were dropped after the search that led to the indictment was ruled illegal. In 2003, Dave Chappelle made a skit showing R. Kelly pouring his urine and "Doo-Doo Butter" on teenage girls. Despite the apparent parody nature, R. Kelly himself was said to have been rather offended by the sketch. In 2004, allegations emerged that among Kelly's tapes was one including gospel singer Deleon Richards, who is also the wife of New York Yankees baseball player Gary Sheffield.
During the pornography controversy, Kelly's problems with the opposite sex carried over into his own family. His wife sought a restraining order against him on September 2, 2005 claiming he physically and verbally attacked her on two occasions but rescinded her request on September 26. Andrea had been a backup dancer before they married and is the mother of his son and two daughters. 
The "Pied Piper of R&B"
Despite the controversies, Kelly moved on with his career releasing his first album since the allegations came up with the 1960s and 1970s-era soul music-inspired Chocolate Factory in 2003. The album became a big success yielding the number two hit remix of "Ignition" and the top 10 single, "Step In the Name Of Love" as well as the top 20 single, "Snake". Kelly's February release of the album started off an eventful year musically for the singer-songwriter-producer as he would produce the #1 hit "Bump, Bump, Bump" for the now-defunct boy band B2K. His productions on the Isley Brothers' Body Kiss album helped land the album at #1. His collaborations with several other acts, including the Big Tymers, Cassidy, and Jennifer Lopez, became modest hits that year also. In 2004, he decided to release a two-sided double-album showing his different sides titled Happy People/U Saved Me with one side, Happy People, celebrating club-going smooth dance-oriented soul cuts and the other showcasing Kelly's inspirational side. Both title tracks were released as singles in mid-2004, with "Happy People" becoming a moderate hit and "U Saved Me" a relative flop whose lyrics and message were lambasted as cheesy by many, including the television station VH1.
Kelly and Jay-Z released a follow up to the album The Best of Both Worlds in October 2004, Unfinished Business, which included eleven previously unreleased tracks by the duo. It debuted at #1 on the US Billboard albums chart. This release was timed to coincide with The Best Of Both Worlds Tour. Jay-Z eventually removed R. Kelly halfway through the tour, after R. Kelly accused Jay-Z's entourage of attacking him with Mace or pepper spray.
Ironically, Kelly had referred to himself on record as the Pied Piper of R&B. Last year, he had a pop hit in a collaboration with rapper Ja Rule and singer Ashanti titled "Wonderful". He expects to release a new album titled TP-3: Reloaded in July, which he had promised fans would herald back to his classic 12 Play period. In April 2005 Kelly released the long awaited "In The Kitchen", well-known among fans attending his live shows. The song was intended to be the album's lead single and received major radio airplay for a couple of months, but Kelly eventually decided to leave it as a buzz single. It was quickly followed up just weeks later with his "Trapped In The Closet" saga, which rapidly climbed, and then suddenly fell, the R&B and urban culture charts nationwide.
After the novelty success of the five-chapter song, which Kelly had likened to an audio version of Desperate Housewives prior to its release, Kelly revealed that he was working on parts six through ten of the song. They are to be released to radio later this summer, in a similar fashion to how the first five were released, and Kelly has promised that the next five parts will tie up some loose ends that the first five left.
Another song off the album was a duet with rapper The Game titled "Playas Only", which despite an earlier climb has failed to ignite the charts. At the MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, Kelly notably gave a six minute long lip-synched performance of his "Trapped in the Closet" suite, which was roundly criticized for being overwrought and self-indulgent, as well as unintentionally hilarious.
- R. Kelly had the most Billboard Top 40 hits more than any other male artist during the 1990s with 15.
- R. Kelly had the longest-running #1 single on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart with "Bump & Grind" registering at #1 for ten consecutive weeks and was also responsible for the second longest-running #1 single on the chart that year with Janet Jackson's "Any Time, Any Place", which stayed at #1 for 10 weeks there and ironically was remixed by Kelly himself (1994).
- R. Kelly's productions on The Isley Brothers' last album, "Body Kiss", helped the album reach #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, making Kelly one of the only artists to have had performed on a #1 pop album ("Chocolate Factory") and produce a #1 pop album for other artists ("Body Kiss") (2003).
- The Best Of Both Worlds: Unfinished Business (2004) (with Jay-Z) debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 Chart selling 215,000 copies its first week of release in the USA.
- Happy People/U Saved Me (2004) debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 Chart selling 403,000 copies its first week of release in the USA; the album has sold 1 million copies to date in the USA.
For a detalied listing of albums and singles, see R. Kelly discography.
|1992||Born Into the '90s
(R. Kelly & Public Announcement)
|1993||12 Play||2||20||6x platinum|
|1995||R. Kelly||1||18||7x platinum|
|2002||The Best of Both Worlds
(R. Kelly & Jay-Z)
|2003||Chocolate Factory||1||10||2x platinum|
|2003||The R. In R&B Collection, Vol. 1||4||4||2x platinum|
|2004||Happy People/U Saved Me||2||4||3x platinum|
(R. Kelly & Jay-Z)
Top Ten Singles
|1992||"She's Got That Vibe"
(with Public Announcement)
|-||7||3||Born into the 90's|
(with Public Announcement)
|-||1||-||Born into the 90's|
(with Public Announcement)
|-||1||-||Born into the 90's|
(with Public Announcement)
|-||9||-||Born into the 90's|
|1993||"Sex Me, Pts. 1-2"||-||8||-||12 Play|
|1994||"Bump n' Grind"||1||1||8||12 Play|
|1994||"Your Body's Callin'"||-||2||-||12 Play|
|1996||"You Remind Me of Something"||4||1||-||R. Kelly|
|1996||"Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)"
(feat. Ernie Isley & Ronald Isley)
|1996||"I Can't Sleep Baby (If I)"||5||1||-||R. Kelly|
|1996||"I Believe I Can Fly"||2||1||1||Space Jam [Soundtrack]|
|1997||"Gotham City"||9||9||9||Batman & Robin [Soundtrack]|
|1998||"I'm Your Angel"
(feat. Céline Dion)
|1998||"When a Woman's Fed Up"||-||1||-||R.|
|1999||"Did You Ever Think"||-||8||-||R.|
|1999||"If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time"||-||5||2||R.|
|2001||"Feelin' on Yo Booty"||-||9||-||TP-2.Com|
|2002||"The World's Greatest"||-||-||4||Ali [Soundtrack]|
|2003||"Ignition [Remix]"||2||2||1||Chocolate Factory|
(feat. Big Tigger)
|2003||"Step in the Name of Love [Remix]"||9||1||-||Chocolate Factory|
|2003||"Thoia Thoing"||-||6||-||The R. in R&B Collection, Vol. 1|
|2004||"Happy People"||-||7||6||Happy People/U Saved Me|
|2004||"U Saved Me"||-||-||6||Happy People/U Saved Me|
|2005||"Trapped in the Closet"||-||4||-||TP.3 Reloaded|
- Best R&B Song ("I Believe I Can Fly")
- Best R&B Male Vocal Performance ("I Believe I Can Fly")
- Best Original Song from A Soundtrack ("I Believe I Can Fly")
(all were won in 1998)
- Official Site
- MTV News: The R. Kelly Reports. (with Illinois charges)
- VH1 News.
- Florida charges.
- R Kelly Fan Site/Backup Message Board.
- #1 R Kelly Message Board with up to date info for his fans. Since July 2003.
- R. Kelly music database.
- R.Kelly´s Lyrics.
- Judge refuses to drop R. Kelly porn case. ( 2005 Reuters Limited )