As prolific as he is talented, R. Kelly¹s eighth album (and second double-album) Happy People/U Saved Me takes the listener on a joyful journey from the wildness of Saturday night stepping to content peacefulness of prayer on a Sunday morning. While straddling the thin line between party music and sacred soundtracks has been a part of the soul man dilemma since the days of Sam Cooke and Bobby Womack, this windy city bro has way of making both sonic genres seem like a religious experience.
After introducing the world beyond the borders of Chi-town to the bliss of "Stepping" (a dance craze that began in the South, but has since become worldwide), R. Kelly has decided to take a return trip into the danceland utopia that has couples doing more swinging and swaying since the days of the Hustle. Never one to half step, R. Kelly has created an entire disc of dancecentric tracks called Happy People. Indeed, this is music, as Kelly passionately says on the thrilling "Weatherman," the opening track, "This is music designed to touch your soul and put your spirit at ease." With a hypnotic title track that also serves as the first single, Happy People is bound to become a Chi-town classic.
Taking on the role of a radio jock who intro's each track with a little DJ babble, R. Kelly is able to talk about many subjects within the context of stepping grooves. From the glare of fame on the stunning "Red Carpet (Pause, Flash)" to examining personal relationships on the beautiful "Love Signals," our man in Chicago leaves little unsaid. "Stepping is therapy," R. Kelly boldly states on "Love Signals," giving one the impression that all of life's problems can be worked out on the dance floor. Recruiting legendary strings arranger Larry Gold, who has worked with artists ranging from The O'Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and The Roots, the duo manages to soar on the majestic "The Greatest Show on Earth." Combining Gold's stirring string arrangements with R.Kelly's own sense of drama, "The Greatest Show on Earth" proves to be the centerpiece of this perfect disc.
From the relentless beats that move your feet on Saturday night to bathing in the Lord's sanctified light on Sunday morning, R. Kelly switches gears on the second disc U Saved Me. Indeed, from Al Green to Donny Hathaway, many R&B artists have been pulled between the proverbial secular and sacred. While other artists might be content name-checking the Lord at award shows and on the back of CD covers, R. Kelly has decided to dive deeper into the sonic seas of redemption and baptize himself in the celestial light. As writer Rob Marriott once pointed out, "R. Kelly can church it out with the best of them."
Opening the U Saved Me disc with the urban operatic "3-Way Phone Call," featuring Kelly Price, Kim Burrell and Maurice Mahon, R. Kelly tries to ease his troubled mind by conversation and testifying with friends. Leading us down the path to glory, this tearful track is both melodramatic and grounded, this track begins the cycle that is U Saved Me. Segueing into the title track, we are introduced to the remainder of the congregation in this aural church. "U Saved Me" is an ingenious testimony from the points of views of various (drunks, drug dealers, et al.) problem personalities. From the preacher in the pulpit to flamboyant hats on the heads of old women to the soaring choir rocking and clapping and swaying to the Baptist beat, the genius of U Saved Me is its ability to conjure the beauty of Sunday morning in song. "I surrender to you," he croons on "I Surrender," and one can almost see rays of light beaming through stained glass windows.
On the last track "Peace," R. Kelly experiments with African cadences combining the tribal beats with his own divine sounds. "Shine your light on me," R. Kelly pleads, showing us that no matter how big we think we are, we're all small in the eyes of the Lord." Fuelled by the power of prayer and remarkable rhythm, as Kelly confesses on the standout track "Prayer Changes," the R. has crafted ten tracks that will make one feel the light of inspiration. Showing two sides of one man, Happy People/U Saved Me is a daring audio document of R. Kelly¹s duel life in the big city: of weekend strutting and Sunday morning kneeling; of multicolored gators stepping after midnight and silk cloaked choirs singing at dawn. As usual, R. Kelly is boldly going where most soul stars fear to tread. Can we get an Amen?
R. Kelly's Next Video: 'Sex In The Kitchen'
Song will be first single from his upcoming album. It's official: "Sex in the Kitchen" is R. Kelly's choice for the first single off his upcoming album. The record hit mixtapes a few weeks ago, and now his camp says the R. will be shooting a video soon.
"That record," Kelly's A&R rep, Wayne Williams, said, ''when he was first writing it, I was like, 'Yo,
man, that record is out of here. That is just a crazy record.' When he started performing it [on tour before it was released,] it just confirmed it. The impact it had was amazing" .
"I think this album is a very sexy album," Williams said of Kelly's still-untitled LP. "It's a very sexy album. I tell you this: There is a song that is real explosive and it's hard to describe. It is going to be a surprise, but it is ... Oh my goodness, if you think 'Sex in the Kitchen' is amazing, wait till you hear this one. He's got a lot in store for this next album, baby. It's ridiculous."
Williams didn't give away too many other details about the project except that Kelly is working with "quite a few" artists from his hometown of Chicago as well as a couple of other rappers from different parts of the country. Williams also said Kelly's lawsuit drama with Jay-Z is having no effect on his work .
"Robert is a very competitive person, he is very spirited in this effort," Williams explained. "Robert always give 150 percent. That is just how he is. He can't do anything half-assed. I think he always feels that he is giving 150 percent no matter when or what's going on. ... Robert does not get caught up in the media stuff like maybe consumers and other people do. Robert just keeps it moving."
Kelly has already moved on to his next two projects while finishing up the impending solo release. He's producing on the new album by Syleena Johnson and playing the role of executive producer on a forthcoming solo effort by Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band. Wilson is already six songs deep into his album, and besides collaborations with Kelly, he's going to be teaming up with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams.
Jay-Z Countersues R. Kelly Over What He Calls Their 'Nightmarish Odyssey'
Jay-Z argues in his suit that he was forced to kick Kelly off tour. Jay-Z first gave it to R. Kelly on wax, and now he's giving it to him in court.
After dissing Kelly for his lawsuit against him on the "Drop It Like It's Hot" remix, the rapper has now filed a countersuit against the R&B singer in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Kelly filed his $75 million action in November against Jay-Z, his business associates and the tour's promoter when he got kicked off the Best of Both Worlds tour . The duo's last show together saw Kelly walking off the stage at New York's Madison Square Garden after telling the audience he thought he saw someone waving a gun at him; he was later pepper-sprayed backstage by one of Jay-Z's associates . But Jay-Z argues in his suit, filed January 24, that the tour promoter was forced to kick Kelly off the trek, which Jay calls a "nightmarish odyssey fueled by R. Kelly's financial woes, insecurities, and unsafe and unpredictable behavior," which included showing up late and unprepared, and leaving shows early in tears.
Jay had previously said in a statement at the time of the tour's cancellation that Kelly had scrapped three performances with less than 24 hours' notice and delayed multiple shows by hours: "In Chicago and Baltimore, R. Kelly was not 'ready.' In Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Hartford, R. Kelly was not 'willing.' In St. Louis and New York, R. Kelly was not 'able.' "
Jay-Z, who depicted Kelly's suit as a "waste of time" in the "Drop It Like It's Hot" remix ', now calls Kelly's lawsuit a "calculated stunt" designed "to deflect attention from his upcoming felony trial involving an alleged sexual liaison with a 14-year-old child."
In response, Kelly's lawyer Ed Hayes said that he doesn't take Jay's suit "too seriously," saying his client is "a creative genius, and of course, no one expects geniuses to act like everybody else."
R. Kelly's spokesperson Allan Mayer, meanwhile, said, "Jay-Z's response to R. Kelly's complaint is remarkable for at least two reasons: First, it is full of factually inaccurate smears of Mr. Kelly that are utterly irrelevant to the issues of the case. Second, it does not deny that after a member of his entourage assaulted Kelly with pepper spray backstage at Madison Square Garden, thus preventing him from performing, Jay-Z breached his contracts by refusing to continue with the tour. It is also notable that the promoter has also sued Jay-Z for these same acts. Mr. Kelly will press on with his case and when the facts are fully laid out in court, it is Jay-Z who will be exposed for his wrongdoing.''
R. Kelly's lawyers obtain sex tape
Lawyers for Chicago-based R&B music star R. Kelly have been given the original videotape that prosecutors say shows Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
Kelly was indicted on child-pornography charges in June 2002, after the Chicago Sun-Times music columnist was mailed the original videotape.
Judge Vincent Gaughan ordered Cook County prosecutors to hand the tape over to defense attorneys Friday so they could make their own copies, the Chicago Tribune said.
The sexual encounter on the tape occurred between November 1997 and February 2002 and including a girl allegedly born Sept. 26 1984. Kelly's attorneys contend the girl in the videotape was not underage.
Gaughan approved Kelly's request to travel to Orlando and Jacksonville next month to perform in Florida shows.
R&B star R. Kelly is a porn king
RANDY R&B star R. Kelly was so fond of videotaping himself having sex that pals saw him as an amateur porn king — but his sloppy handling of his private videos has made misery for him and his sex partners, including the wife of New York Yankee outfielder Gary Sheffield, sources who know Kelly tell The Post.
Kelly taped dozens of sex scenes, including two sessions years ago with Sheffield's gospel-singer wife DeLeon, the sources said. And he had no qualms about toting the tapes around on his tour bus and even to Hoops, an upscale gym in Chicago where he plays basketball, the sources said.
One day at Hoops, someone swiped Kelly's gym bag, which contained a tape that allegedly shows the skirt-chasing crooner having intercourse with an underage girl prosecutors contend was 14 to 15 years old at the time, the sources said. That tape, dubbed "R. Kelly Triple X," hit the black market in 2001 — leading to Kelly's arrest on charges of possessing child porn that could land him in prison for 15 years. It also opened the door to shocking revelations about the R&B star's raunchy ways.
"Triple X" features three separate scenes — one with DeLeon, one with the alleged underage girl and one with a third woman, the sources said. Though the tape has been public for three years, DeLeon was never publicly named as appearing on it or any other video until two weeks ago, when Chicago activist Derrick Mosley was arrested and charged with attempting to blackmail new Yankee Sheffield for $20,000.
MOSLEY boasted to Bamani Obadele and other black activists more than a year ago that he'd discovered it was DeLeon with Kelly on "Triple X," said the activists, some of whom are part of a loose affiliation of Kelly advisers and pals who call themselves "The Circle." But DeLeon's identity already was an open secret among Kelly's inner circle — even though her face can't be seen — because she'd dated Kelly as a teen and because of a mysterious second tape that purportedly shows Kelly, DeLeon and Kelly's wife Andrea Lee in a three-way sexcapade, sources said. Mosley refers to a three-way sex tape in the alleged shakedown talks he had with Sheffield's agent, Rufus Williams, which were recorded by the FBI.
But the second video has not surfaced in public and it is not among the tapes that federal prosecutors confiscated from Mosley's home last week, though the feds said they have found a tape on which Kelly and DeLeon have sex.
Mosley stressed in a jailhouse interview with The Post last week that the tape he discussed with Williams, involving DeLeon and Kelly in a menage a trois, does exist.
It's unclear if Mosley ever had that second tape, but sources who know both Mosley and Kelly say the activist may have watched it at viewing parties the singer hosted at his $2.3 million mansion in the swanky Lincoln Park section of Chicago.
"He certainly knew about it and it's possible he'd seen it," said one source, who described the alleged three-way scene.
"But nobody — and I've checked with people in Chicago, Detroit and New York — ever had a copy" except R. Kelly.
R. Kelly Response to Media Reports About a New Sex Videotape
We can't believe we're saying this to anyone other than Paris Hilton, but here goes: Hey, R. Kelly! Stop having sex in front of cameras. Kelly is the star of yet another tape, this time with two women, who, thankfully, aren't minors (his alleged affairs with underage girls have dragged him into court for years). Chicago FBI agents have charged a man there with extortion and with threatening to show the tape of Kelly with the wife of an unidentified pro athlete and another woman. (P.S.: The New York Post says one of the women is DeLeon, wife of New York Yankee's outfielder Gary Sheffield, and that the tape was made 10 years ago, before they were married.)
In response to media reports concerning a videotape supposedly seized by law-enforcement authorities in connection with an extortion attempt, a spokesman for R. Kelly issued the following statement:
"We have heard second-hand reports that the tape allegedly shows consenting adults, including someone identified as R. Kelly, engaged in sexual activity. Since we haven't seen the tape, we can neither confirm nor deny that it is in fact Mr. Kelly. We can, however, confirm that no one is suggesting the tape depicts anything but the activities of consenting adults."
R. Kelly sues Jay-Z for $75 millions
Singer R. Kelly sued rapper Jay-Z on Monday for $75 million, alleging Jay-Z's "spite and jealousy" prompted him to use violence to force Kelly off their national tour. The breach of contract suit suggests Jay-Z was perturbed because Kelly was the higher-paid performer. The animosity led to deliberate lighting flubs and other technical problems, violence against Kelly, and threats to force the promoter to drop him, court papers say. The promoter is also named as a defendant.
Kelly, whose best-known hit is "I Believe I Can Fly," accused one of Jay-Z's associates of blasting him with pepper spray early Saturday at Madison Square Garden. He was treated at a hospital and released. A short time later, the tour's promoter, Atlanta Worldwide Touring, fired Kelly. He and Jay-Z were in the middle of a 40-city tour that had been plagued by canceled shows and reports the two refused to speak to each other. The tour was supposed to be "the perfect marriage of hip-hop and R&B," said Kelly's lawyer, Edward Hayes. "Instead, it's going to be a terrible divorce."
Atlanta Worldwide said Sunday that the tour has been canceled. Jay-Z's publicist said he was unsure whether the rapper would try to fill the remaining dates as a solo act. A statement from Island Def Jam Records, which Jay-Z is slated to take over, blamed Kelly's "lack of professionalism and unpredictable behavior" for cancellation of the tour. Kelly's court papers suggested that the tension between the two musicians was the result of Kelly's larger profit split: 60 percent of the first $15 million earned to Jay-Z's 40 percent.
Kelly's lawsuit says Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, and his associates turned the tour into a "nightmare" by engaging "in a pattern of wrongful conduct" to get the promoter to exclude Kelly. Kelly's lawsuit asks for $15 million in compensatory damages and $60 million in punitive damages. On Friday night, court papers say, Kelly was performing when he noticed two men in the audience open their coats and display dark objects that he thought could have been guns. Kelly twice left the stage, once telling the audience that he was being "menaced." After police arrived and found nothing, Kelly returned to the stage, after which a Jay-Z associate pepper-sprayed Kelly and several members of his entourage, the suit says.
R. Kelly is ready, willing and able to continue the tour
R. Kelly shares his fans' disappointment that despite his willingness to continue performing, the promoter has cancelled his "Best of Both Worlds" concert tour with Jay-Z. Despite being pepper sprayed by a member of Jay-Z's entourage as he tried to return to the stage in Madison Square Garden last night, Kelly declared he was "ready, willing, and able" to continue the tour, starting with tonight's scheduled show at the Garden. Jay-Z, however, refused to perform, as a result
of which the promoter cancelled the tour. "The fans deserve better than this," Kelly said. "I'd like the show to go on. It's really disappointing that Jay-Z and the promoter don't."
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