Robert Sylvester Kelly is an American pop singer, songwriter, and recording artist. He is best known for producing songs for other artists, most notably ones associated with urban music. Robert Kelly was born in Harlem in New York City and grew up going to local churches and volunteering at them. As a teenager, he also gained experience by participating in street brawls and street parties. After several years of attempting to escape his violent environment, he decided to move to California, where he earned a degree in psychology.
When R. Kelly relocated to Chicago, he became known as one of the most sought-after talents by many musical artists. Kelly began his career as a singer/songwriter with various groups before discovering and developing his vocal talent. After some time as a member of various crews, including Goose and Juice, he was introduced to the world by DJ Rashad’s Tip Unit. The collaboration led to Kelly releasing his first single, “Take Me Away”, which featured production from Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. The song was a hit and helped establish him as an established recording artist, as well as an upcoming musician/band leader in Chicago.
In 1993, R. Kelly was a part of a Sexual Abuse trial involving four men who were accused of sexually abusing a female altar girl. While in court, Kelly produced an audio recording that allegedly showed the abuse in full, but the charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence. R. Kelly was fired from his position as a talent manager following the dismissal, and several other charges were levied against him. He faced a total of six criminal charges, including one count of rape, two counts of sodomy, two counts of felony drug possession, one count of obstruction of justice, one count of conspiracy to commit a drug crime, as well as one count of solicitation. In this case, though, the singer was not directly involved in the events that brought about his conviction; he was a witness and a possible suspect in the case, yet he was still fired from his job.
After the charges were dropped, Kelly went on to record what would become his major-selling album, Kelly’s List. This album featured guest spots from rap heavyweights like Big Daddy Kane and J.J. Simpson, as well as numerous other artists. Kelly’s second album, Live, was even better than his previous effort; it reached number one on the pop charts, selling millions of copies. The singles that graced the album include “Rhythmically Incorrect,” “Who Is It,” “Come Together,” “Love In The Full Moon,” Reload” (which memorably featured YMCA member Scottie Pippen).
A year later, R. Kelly was in the news again, this time for his role in the movie Chicago. According to Variety, Kelly will play a major role in the upcoming Spiderman movie, due out in July. The character Kelly will be playing is none other than the late Harvey Milk, the gay mayor of Chicago who was secretly HIV positive. It was later discovered that Milk had been molested as a child, which led to his death when he was beaten to death at his home. R. Kelly will surely be making quite an impression when he appears in Spiderman. Although some people may bemoan the portrayal of a homosexual in a Hollywood blockbuster, the singer tells reporters that he’s happy that the comic book character is finally getting a big-screen treatment.
R. Kelly continues to tour as an artist today, even after decades of producing hit albums. Most recently, he released the double live album Rebound, featuring collaborations with rapper 50 cent, along with the band Shots Before You Now. The album sold very well, according to sources, but it failed to achieve the success of his first two self-titled albums. Hopefully, Rebound will fare better than those two. Rebound is expected to be certified platinum in a matter of weeks, giving it an impressive run for a debut album.