R. Kelly is, at the same time, both one of the most revered and controversial artists of his generation. And he begs the ongoing argument of a man’s professional life versus his personal life; but when it comes to his music…there is no discussion.
For over 20 years, R. Kelly has been on the forefront of the R&B scene, as a performer, a writer, a producer, and even an arranger. He is the kind of musical Renaissance man that world rarely sees. He doesn’t just write hit songs, either…he writes songs that weave their way into the pop-culture lexicon in ways that few others have managed to do. Who among us doesn’t know the opening lines to “Bump n’ Grind”? Or the refrain to “Ignition (remix)”? Or pretended we were playing one-on-one with Bug Bunny to “I Believe I Can Fly”?
Shall I go on? “Sex Me”? “You Remind Me of Something”? “I’m Your Angel”? And who could forget the endless soap opera told among the 33 chapters of “Trapped in the Closet”?
We know all of those songs, and so many more in R. Kelly’s songbook. Who knows how many babies have been made to R.’s voice? And what makes these songs all the more special is the fact that Kelly is singularly responsible for the music he makes, unlike so many of the R&B artists out today, who are making club anthems instead of actual songs – and even those are being written for them by a production team in a studio somewhere.
This is not to gloss over the significantly less romantic aspect of the legal woes and sex scandals that have been hovering over him like a black cloud for the past decade, but where do we draw lines? Morally, I imagine most people would have an issue with President Bill Clinton’s personal life…but can we deny that the 90’s were a wonderful, prosperous time for our country under his administration? Of course it was. So why can’t we listen to R. Kelly’s music and enjoy it for the display of all around musical proficiency that it is, and not worry ourselves with the sordid details of his private life?
Regardless of your feelings toward him, if you are interested in checking him out live, Kelly will be performing tonight, May 11th at KFC Yum! Center. He is touring in support of his latest album, Black Panties, with Tamar Braxton opening the show. Tickets are still available ranging from $49 - $85.