Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- There is also a similarly named poet, called Robert Kelly.
R. Kelly (born Robert Sylvester Kelly on January 8, 1967 in Chicago, Illinois) is an R&B and soul singer, songwriter and producer who found international acclaim in the 1990s for his diverse talents as a singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and musician. Some of his most popular material has had critics compare him to legends like Marvin Gaye, whom they consider Kelly as his heir apparent in terms of soul and R&B music.
Born into poverty and distress in Chicago's Southside projects, young Robert 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 Stevie Wonder ballad, "Ribbon in the Sky" at a talent show in 1984.
By 1988, Kelly had started to develop his unique sounds playing his keyboards and becoming a street performer. A young musical executive by the name of Wayne Williams sought Kelly and helped get him sign to his first and only record label, Jive Records, in the end of 1989. After forming the group Public Announcement , he and the group went into the recording studio in the end of 1990 and 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", "Definition of a Hottie" and "Honey Love" would be the featured songs in Born Into the '90s , which was released several days after Kelly's 25th birthday in 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 captivate the sounds that would fully launch the young musician as one of the singular most great talents of music during much of the 1990s. Released that fall, 12 Play fully launched Kelly's career into the stratosphere and yielded the smash hits "Sex Me", "Your Body's Calling" and the monster #1 sex romp "Bump & Grind". Kelly was now so big that by 1994 he was able to produce for other acts. Starting with singer Aaliyah, he found huge success for Aaliyah with the songs "Back and Forth" and "Age Ain't Nothin' 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 was short-lived when she died of a plane crash on August 25, 2001. Kelly's alleged antics of falling in love with teenaged women would begin 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
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, like its predecessor, became a big success 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). That 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's singles 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 CÚline 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". 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 (a sequel to his 1993 classic album). Ironically the biggest singles weren't based on his sexuall 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 a top 5 Pop and #1 R&B single) was about partying. But the album's third biggest single screamed out Marvin Gaye in his post-Let's Get It On period and Kelly's earlier hit "Bump & Grind", the loosely and humor-filled "Feelin' n Your Booty".
The Best of Both Worlds at the Worse 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, "Loving 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 no singles and due to a controversy Kelly endured for allegedly making a sex tape with him and an underage teenage girl helped to make the album a disappointment for both Kelly and Jay-Z as he didn't want to be near the singer during his case.
The Trouble With Girls
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. People remembered that messing with underage girlsgot Kelly in hot water when he married Aaliyah. But they weren't prepared for the explosion awaiting to happen when in February 2002, an unknown source sent a video tape to the Chicago Sun Times newspaper that showed Kelly and a 14-year-old daughter of an associate and niece of a former Kelly protege engaging in sex. While witnesses have identified Kelly and the girl, the girl herself and her parents have denied that she is shown on the tape. Bootleg copies of the tape became widely available on the black market. The tape showed seven sex acts, and 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.
In addition to those charges, Kelly was indicted in Florida in January 2003 on 12 counts of possession of child pornography. However, the charges were dropped after the search which led to the indictment was ruled illegal. In 2003, Dave Chappelle made a skit showing R. Kelly pouring his pee 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 sordid tapes was one including gospel singer, Deleon Richards, who is also the wife of NY Yankees' Gary Sheffield.
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 "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 teen group B2K. His productions on the Isley Brothers' Body Kiss album helped land the album at #1. His collaborations with several other acts 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 celebrating club-going smooth dance-oriented soul cuts and the other showcasing Kelly's inspirational side.
Kelly and Jay-Z released a follow up to the Best of Both Worlds album in October 2004 under the new name Unfinished Business which includes 11 previously unreleased tracks by the duo. It debuted at #1 in the US Billboard albums chart. This release is 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.
Ironically, Kelly has referred to himself on record as the Pied Piper of R&B. His current hit is a duet with rapper Ja Rule and singer Ashanti titled "Wonderful". He is currently working on an album he plans to put out in 2005 in which he says would herald back to his classic 12 Play period.
- 1991 Born into the 90's #42 US
- 1992 12 Play #2 US, #20 UK
- 1995 R. Kelly #1 US, #18 UK
- 1998 R #2 US, #27 UK
- 2000 TP-2.com #2 US
- 2002 The Best of Both Worlds (with Jay-Z) #2 US, #37 UK
- 2003 Chocolate Factory #1 US, #10 UK
- 2003 The R. in R&B Collection, Vol. 1 (compilation) #4 US, #4 UK
- 2004 Happy People/U Saved Me #2 US, #11 UK
- 2004 Unfinished Business (with Jay-Z) #1 US
- from Born into the 90's
- 1992 "Honey Love" #39 US
- 1993 "Dedicated" #31 US
- from 12 Play
- 1993 "Sex Me, Pts. 1-2" #20 US
- 1994 "Bump N' Grind" #1 US, #8 UK (1995 release)
- 1994 "Your Body's Callin'" #13 US, #19 UK
- 1994 "Summer Bunnies" #23 UK
- from Born into the 90's
- 1994 "She's Got That Vibe" (re-issue) #3 UK
- non-album single
- 1995 "The 4 Play EPs" (Your Body's Callin'/Homie, Lover, Friend/Honey Love/Slow Dance) #23 UK
- from R. Kelly
- 1995 "You Remind Me of Something" #4 US, #24 UK
- 1996 "Down Low (Nobody Has To Know)" (feat. Ronald Isley) #4 US, #23 UK
- 1996 "Thank God It's Friday" #14 UK
- 1996 "I Can't Sleep Baby (If I)" #5 US
- from Space Jam soundtrack
- 1996 "I Believe I Can Fly" #2 US, #1 UK (1997 release)
- from Batman & Robin soundtrack
- 1997 "Gotham City" #9 US, #9 UK
- from Sparkle (Sparkle album)
- 1998 "Be Careful" (Sparkle feat. R. Kelly) #7 UK
- from R.
- 1998 "Half on a Baby" #16 UK
- 1998 "Home Alone" (feat. Keith Murray) #17 UK
- 1998 "I'm Your Angel" (with CÚline Dion) #1 US, #3 UK
- 1998 "When a Woman's Fed Up" #22 US
- 1999 "Did You Ever Think" (feat. Nas) #27 US, #20 UK
- 1999 "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time" #12 US, #2 UK
- from Forever (Puff Daddy album)
- 2000 "Satisfy You" (Puff Daddy feat. R. Kelly) #2 US, #8 UK
- from R.
- 2000 "Only the Loot Can Make Me Happy" #24 UK
- from TP-2.Com
- 2000 "I Wish" #14 US, #12 UK
- 2001 "Feelin' on Yo Booty" #36 US
- 2001 "The Storm Is Over Now" #18 UK
- 2001 "Fiesta" #6 US, #23 UK
- from Ali soundtrack
- 2002 "The World's Greatest" #34 US, #4 UK
- from The Best of Both Worlds
- 2002 "Honey" (with Jay-Z) #35 UK
- from Chocolate Factory
- 2003 "Ignition Remix" #2 US, #1 UK
- 2003 "Snake" (feat. Big Tigger) #16 US, #10 UK
- 2003 "Step in the Name of Love" #9 US (2004 release), #14 UK (double A-side with Thoia Thong in the UK)
- from The R. in R&B Collection, Vol. 1
- 2003 "Thoia Thong" #13 US
- from Split Personality (Cassidy album)
- 2004 "Hotel" (Cassidy feat. R. Kelly) #4 US, #3 UK
- from Happy People/U Saved Me
- 2004 "Happy People/U Saved Me" #6 UK
- from R.U.L.E. (Ja Rule album)
- 2004 "Wonderful" (Ja Rule feat. R. Kelly & Ashanti) #1 UK, #5 US
- from Unfinished Business
- 2004 "Big Chips" (with Jay-Z) #39 US
- "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 from 1997)
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