R. Kelly is one of the most controversial figures in contemporary soul, making his debut slightly ahead of the gangsta rappers that were his peers. His sweet, soulful voice and sometimes visionary writing has been overshadowed by scandals in his private life. Debuting with his band Public Announcement in the early 90s, Kelly was able to fuse the then-in-decline swingbeat with hip-hop and classic soul. His debut solo album, 12 Play contained overt sexual messages, delivered sweetly enough to render them angelic. His work and subsequent marriage (and divorce) to 15-year-old Aaliyah stirred controversy. His writing You Are Not Alone for Michael Jackson (and singing on its chorus) and his single, I Believe I Can Fly, took Kelly fully into the mainstream. His 1998 album, R. contained the duet with Celine Dion, I’m Your Angel. It took him to the top of the US chart for six weeks. Recordings with Puff Daddy and Jay-Z further cemented his reputation. However allegations of underage relationships dogged him, complete with an alleged ‘sex tape’ filmed with a 14-year-old girl in 2002. Although ultimately found not guilty when the case came to court in 2008, this and several similar accusations have hounded him. That said, he recorded two of his very best works during this period, the UK number 1 single Ignition Remix and the concept album, Happy People/U Saved Me. Kelly is one of the most successful artists of the past 20 years. In 2009, he released his first ever mixtape – The Demo Tape (Gangsta Glitz).
Followers: Akon, Ne-Yo, Taio Cruz
Influenced By: Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers, Luther Vandross...