Parlé: Looking back at your career do you have any regrets?
R. Kelly: Even though I had some downfalls in my music or my life, I felt like it has all built me to be who I am today. I’m still standing here, very strong, very confident and feeling very good about this album and very good about life. I believe your struggle brings you to that and it builds character. Not only in music, but throughout my career and my life, I have no regrets whatsoever simply because whatever I go through and whatever I’ve been through has made me the man I am today.
Parlé: What’s your favorite album? song?
R. Kelly: I would have to say Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life is my favorite album. I would have to say my favorite song in the whole wide world is…”I Believe I Can Fly.”
Parlé: So far what has been the highlight of your career?
R. Kelly: The highlight of my career so far is working with Michael Jackson. I had the opportunity to work with the greatest man that ever did music.
Parlé: When creating new music do you ever think back to old songs and try to out do a record?
R. Kelly: I do that all the time, I’m always challenging myself. I go back in the past and listen to hot songs, recreate and just beat it. I’m very competitive with myself. I’m always in the studio trying to beat the last thing that I did.
Parlé: You’ve done a lot of collaborations in the past, anyone you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t gotten a chance to link up with yet?
R. Kelly: I would love to collaborate with Stevie Wonder. I know Stevie but I’ve never had the opportunity to work with him. I have a whole vault of songs in the studio that I’ve written just for Stevie Wonder and I’m hoping one day to have the opportunity to work with him.
Parlé: Why hasn’t it happened?
R. Kelly: I have no idea but it should’ve happened by now. I’m being patient. Every now and then I’m gonna call Stevie and reach out to his people and say, “hey, I got a song, want to hear it? Here it go.”
Parlé: Why do you make the type of music you do?
R. Kelly: It’s hard for me to answer that question because the type of music I feel I make or I can make is any type of music. I feel like the earth is my turf when it comes to making music. Although I started off with R & B and it has made me successful and famous, songs like “I Believe I Can Fly,” and “You Are Not Alone,” for Michael Jackson, “I Look To You,” for Whitney Houston are more mainstream songs; I feel like I can do anything when it comes to music. The reason I do R & B and I’m known for R & B is because thats the way I started. That was my wagon, I rode it out to the fullest and I’m known for that. People expect that more than anything else. I try to give the people what they expect from me, but I feel when it comes to music…R. Kelly is music.
Parlé: Years to come how do you want to be remembered?
R. Kelly: In years to come I want to be remembered for my music and the way my music has touched so many people around the world. I want to be remembered as a songwriter, a singer, a performer, a producer, a father, loyal to my fans, and being one of the greatest that has ever done what I do.
Parlé: How has your definition of love changed since you first started your career compared to now?
R. Kelly: My definition of love has changed for the better. I say that because in the beginning I only knew I loved my music and I loved what was inside of me but now I got so much more to love like my kids, my fans, my friends and family, people who supported and prayed for R. Kelly around the world. It has greatly enhanced my love and my reason for loving and my reasons for why I do what I do.
Parlé: How do you define love?
R. Kelly: Music. Harmony. It’s one thing to have a solo singer, its another to have a duet, but nothing touches my heart more or excites my ears more than when I hear thousands of people singing and humming in harmony. That’s how I define love.
Parlé: What do you think is the secret to a happy and healthy loving relationship?
R. Kelly: I think that people don’t talk to each other. Couples don’t talk to each other like they should. They don’t get an understanding. They fall in love and they aren’t friends. I think that in order to make a relationship work and have longevity in a relationship is to fall in friends first. Be that person’s homie. Be that person’s running buddy. If you can do that, if you create that, then the relationship has a lot better chance at growing and blossoming into something that can be forever. I believe if you conquer the friendship with your soul mate, together you can conquer anything.
Parlé: How do you prevent a spouse from cheating?
R. Kelly: I think when you are in a relationship you can’t prevent the other from cheating. When you’re in love you will make mistakes sometimes but through prayer you can help prevent temptations that will come. I think when it comes to cheating only God can prevent that. I think if they don’t pray about it, they’re more likely open for those mistakes to happen.
Parlé: What advice would you give to a man trying to woo a woman? What advice would you give to a woman trying to woo a man?
R. Kelly: Any man (and this goes for man and woman) trying to woo (woo means to impress a woman) a woman is not being a man at all because it’s a sign of insecurity. You shouldn’t have to impress a woman. She’s either going to be impressed by your character, the way you look, the way you carry yourself, the way you make her smile, make her laugh, by your genuine spirit, or she’s not. Although some women are impressed by a hot car or a man with some money or whatever, it’s not true, it’s not organic. The best way for a woman to be impressed by a man (if a man is looking for a real woman) is to impress her by coming as he is, being honest and true and saying what it is he feels. She’s either going to like it or she’s not. And vice-versa.
Parlé: Your music is used by people everywhere to set the mood, but what do you listen to in order to get the mood right?
R. Kelly: I listen to the Twelve Play album.
Foreword by: Kevin Benoit
Interview by: Fariso Maswoswe
Photos by: Anthony Mandler