By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
He's an R&B genius. He's also a filthy freak.
Lately, though, this oh-so-nasty man — known to the authorities as Robert Sylvester Kelly — has been tryin' hard to behave himself, donning formalwear, smoking fancy cigars, talking about true romance, penning a thoughtful personal memoir titled Soulacoaster, and just generally acting the perfect gentleman.
But now R. Kelly is back on the prowl. He's hitting the road with his Single Ladies Tour. He's prepping an extra-sexy new album. And he's seeking out every female in America. Even the married mamas.
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"Oh, yeah! Gettin' ready, baby," Kelly chirps. "This tour isn't designed strictly for the single ladies," he snickers. "The show is full of old-school R. Kelly and new-school R. Kelly. So there'll definitely be 12 Play R. Kelly mixed with the TP-2 R. Kelly and right on through the Happy People R. Kelly. The whole nine!"
So get set to let your booty sweat while the Pied Piper humps, praises, digs deep, screams his own name, and works it out on classics like "Bump 'n' Grind," "The Greatest Sex," and "It's Your Birthday."
All y'all might even get a quick and dirty preview of Kells's next record — Black Panties — which absolutely won't be any kinda sequel to his last two surprisingly chivalrous slabs.
"Hell naw! It'll be nothin' like Love Letter or Write Me Back," the King of R&B cackles. "Black Panties is gonna be the 12 Play of today. And I don't want anybody to think that R. Kelly has left the sexual music. Because I haven't!
"When I first started makin' Black Panties about six months ago, I was pretty much doin' that particular album for all the strip clubs," the maestro explains. "Now everybody's been talkin' about it. So I think it's probably gonna go beyond just the strip clubs. But that was my intention: I wanted to do an album for the strip club."
Of course, Kelly has a lot on deck besides this collection of songs dedicated to ladies' undergarments and nudie bars. In fact, he's about to get Trapped in the Closet again. In less than a month, IFC will air the next several dozen episodes of his scandalously hilarious R&B soap-opera masterpiece.
"Ooohhh-eee!" the Pied Piper croons, giggling. "It's gonna get a whole lot bigger and wilder. I'm very excited, as much as anybody else, to see these next 30-something chapters I just did."
There's even reason to believe that the infinite dramatic and musical possibilities of Kelly's Closet might never be fully explored. "You know, I have a chart that I do. And I found out that Trapped in the Closet is basically forever. Because anytime I put that chart up, these characters start to come to life. And there are even new characters that I've created and introduced to the saga. This shit's off the chain!
"To put it simply, Trapped in the Closet is now like a ghetto hip-hop version of General Hospital or One Life to Live," he insists. "It's not only cliffhangers. There are actual stories that's goin' on here. The characters have more depth. They're not just some person singing on the song in this R. Kelly voice."
And as the crazy-awesome saga that is Trapped in the Closet continues to unravel, it's beginning to look like the most insanely ambitious endeavor of R. Kelly's quarter-century-long career.
"Absolutely!" he marvels. "And Trapped in the Closet is outta my control. I don't even know, when I go into the studio, what I'm gonna write. I never know what character is gonna be developed, and I never know what the cliffhanger is gonna be.
"Space is the limit when it comes to Trapped in the Closet," Kells admits, "which," he whispers, "makes it an alien."