R. Kelly Interview – Talks Twenty Years In the Music Business

I feel like Earth is my turf when it comes to making music…R. Kelly is music.
-R. Kelly

 R. Kelly talks about 20-plus years in the music business, the new album, Untitled, and his thoughts on love and relationships!


There is no doubt that when it comes to making music and creating hit records today, ten years or even 15 years ago, R. Kelly is one of the best. Hearing him speak about his craft you can hear his passion, probably more than any artist I’ve ever spoken to. Music obviously flows through him and more than ever I believe he is the R in R & B.

Over the last few years a lot of people have developed newfound opinions of Kelly for whatever personal reasons, but the passing of Michael Jackson earlier this year served as a great example of how we often forget the greats in our African-American community, at least until they pass away. I refuse to not give credit to those who are deserving of it, while they are still alive. Last I checked, all the negative has been cleared up and is in the past, it’s time we give credit where its do.

We had the opportunity to interview Kelly recently, here’s a look at what he had to say.

Parlé: You’ve been in the industry since the late 80’s, with the game changing around you so much, how have you been able to stay consistent and remain one of the biggest name is music?
R. Kelly: I stay consistent in what I do and try to remain one of the biggest names in the industry by continuing to write life and not songs. I figure as long as people are living on this earth and they can relate to a real song that’s about real life then I will always have a chance to be in the game and continue to upgrade my skills.

Parlé: Having accomplished so much up to this point, what would you consider to be the next level for your career? What needs to happen in order for you to get there?
R. Kelly: I’ve accomplished so much at this point just by observing people, hearing what they say, watching how they party and I write about it. I believe as time goes on if I continue to write about people and what I see, I’ll be able to continue to grow with my music.

Parlé: Some people have criticized your approach of late with music saying you’ve stepped away from the classic R & B for a more new age sound, why the change in your music?
R. Kelly: There hasn’t been a change in my music, there’s just been an upgrade in it. You’re not going to just drive the same old car around all the time if you have the opportunity to get a new car. You’re not going to just use the same old phone if you have the opportunity to upgrade your phone. I chose to continue to upgrade my music and when you have long term fans sometimes it takes them a minute to grab onto what’s new and fresh but once their ears get used to hearing it, they’ll be able to accept it and grow with me. If I want them to continue to grow with me, I have to continue to remix my career.

R. Kelly interview
R. Kelly ‘Untitled’ album cover

Parlé: Let’s talk about the album, Untitled, first of all why did you decide to go with that title?
R. Kelly: I have been in this business for twenty years. I’ve been blessed to write hits for several artists. I decided on this particular album, not to call it anything. I want you to call it what you wanna call it. I just had my swag attitude, my alter ego thing going on. I feel like whatever the fan’s favorite song is from the album, that’s the name of the album for them.

Parlé: There were a lot of leaks with this album and you had a lot of time to work on it, what can listeners expect from this album?
R. Kelly: In my own opinion, I would say this is the new, upgraded TP-2.com. When I went in I wanted to come out with an upgraded TP-2.com and I’ve done just that.

Parlé: Another first for this album for you was going to Atlanta to record. Why Atlanta? How did that affect the sound?
R. Kelly: I chose Atlanta because I wanted to go and meet new producers. To me it was like a producer’s convention. I just wanted to go there and collaborate with new people and get a fresher feel for what I wanted to do. I had been so used to doing it at my home in Chicago that I felt like I needed to break out and go somewhere else. It’s a lot of talented people in Atlanta and Atlanta is like Chicago’s cousin. So I felt like I could be at home still, but yet be away. It was a great opportunity going to go to Atlanta work with new people on the Untitled album.

Parlé:
What stands out for you about this album compared to past work?
R. Kelly: Sometimes you can upgrade something and it’s not as good as it used to be; it’s too new. I made sure this album wasn’t too new, but upgraded enough so that they could still get a good feeling of the R. Kelly that they knew and at the same time upgrade the album so they could feel its fresh still. A fresh feeling to their ears.

Parlé:
Will the fans that have been with you since day 1 still be able to relate to you on this album?
R. Kelly: I know without a doubt, my fans ol’ skool and new will be able to relate to the album because of the simple fact that it’s ol’ skool and new and it meets right in the middle.

Parlé: What do you think about the state of R & B right now?
R. Kelly: I think R & B is cruising right now and I think it was kinda losing its soul. That’s why I felt it was important to come out with the Untitled album. I wanted to help put the soul back in R & B because I don’t care how much Hip-Hop you listen to, Rap, Pop, all of that, I love it all, but its just something soulful about good R & B music. I try to keep the souls of people alive. Music touches the soul, you write with the soul in it. That’s what I try to do, continue to put the soul in it. I think R & B is gonna be alright, you know…R. Kelly is coming out!

Parlé: What was the biggest risk that you took in the studio while making this album?
R. Kelly: The biggest risk on this album I would have to say is having the song “Be My #2” because it was such a different track, a different feel. Even though the subject is real, the sound of the music, the sound of the track, the melody, the way I’m singing it, I took a chance with that one.

Parlé: What’s it like touring for this project?
R. Kelly: Being out on tour is very exciting and fun. People know your album is getting ready to drop, but I’m not really doing any of the songs that’s on the new album. The fans are getting some of the ol’ skool R. Kelly as well as some of the new songs and collaborations that I’ve done. I think it’s exciting because once they get the album they’ll get another “first” of R. Kelly. The next time around we’ll go on tour with all of the new new stuff. I think it’s just exciting to hear all the people sing all the old songs. It sounds like hymns in the audience, its just unbelievable to hear that.

Parlé: What is the most important thing that you want fans to get out of this album?
R. Kelly: The most important thing I want fans to get from this Untitled album is that not only is R. Kelly back, but I never went anywhere. I haven’t skipped a beat and I’m still fresh. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Team Parle

The collective team of Parlé Magazine. Twitter: @parlemag

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