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R.Kelly : Rated R

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With child pornography charges and the possibility of jail time looming, it would seem that R. Kelly would not have much to smile about,. but leave it up to R&B’s Pied Piper to find a way to remain upbeat while dodging the long arm of the law.

 

Fans not only read about Kelly in the gossip pages, but also heard much from the Grammy winner as he rode shotgun alongside Young Jeezy (“Go Getter”), Usher (“Same Girl”), Ludacris (“Rock Star), Rick Ross (“Speedin’”) and Bow Wow (“I’m a Flirt”).

 

And while “I’m a Flirt” proved to be a successful collaboration with Bow Wow, Kells took it a step further by recruiting T.I. and T-Pain for the song’s remix. The track, which eventually became certified platinum, provided the perfect build up to the hit maker’s eighth solo album Double Up.

 

The album, which was released in May, struck a chord with music lovers, as it became the fifth Kelly album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. So it’s a safe bet that the 14 counts of child pornography the singer was charged with had no effect on his fans.

 

The pending case did not deter Kelly from releasing “Rise Up,” a tribute song to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. Proceeds from the song went to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, a fund set up to help family members of the victims of the shootings as well as provide counseling and support for those affected by the tragedy.

 

Not one to rest, Kelly continued to keep his mind off the case by putting together chapters 13 through 22 of his Trapped In the Closet mini soap opera. The new installments, which were released in August on DVD, were featured on the Independent Film Channel via its web site.

 

That was all good, but nothing could compare to all the twists and turns surrounding Kelly’s child pornography trial. After months of delays which included a hospital stint for the judge in the case and Kelly, who underwent surgery for a burst appendix, the somewhat inevitable happened. The trial would kick off on Sept. 17 with jury selection.

 

That date got thrown out as the hearing was postponed on account of the lead prosecutor having a baby. Not that it would’ve made a difference. After word leaked that the girl in the Kelly’s infamous video was taking the stand in his defense, it was going to be a challenge for prosecutors to make their case strong enough to convict Kelly.

 

So with plenty of delays to go around, what better way for Kells to pass the time than to strike out on a 37-date national tour with Keyshia Cole, Ne-Yo and J. Holiday? You gotta pay for your defense somehow.

 

The tour, which kicked off Nov. 17 in Columbus, Ga., seemed like a sure bet. That is until the face of drama started showing as reports came in about Cole’s diva behavior, Ne-Yo’s show stealing performances and mixed reviews on Kelly’s set. Eventually it would all come to a head as Ne-Yo became the fall guy and was let go from the outing.

 

According to reports, Ne-Yo got dropped from the tour after two performances. Although Kelly’s people claim the split was due to a contract dispute, Ne-Yo’s reps believe that he was let go because of concerns he would outshine Kelly.

 

While we have a few days to go until the end of 2007, Kells is providing us with a last bit of intrigue through his former publicist Regina Daniels. Daniels formally resigned after stating in a news release that “some lines that should never be crossed professionally or personally.”

 

Rumors have been running rampant as speculation is directed towards an inappropriate relationship between Kelly and Daniels’ 19–year-old daughter. No official reason has been given for the resignation, which was “effective as of August 28, 2007.” The only thing that Daniels would say is that “Mr. Kelly crossed a line that forever altered the scope of our relationship” as the reason behind her resignation, which was “effective as of August 28, 2007.”

 

And if that wasn’t enough to close out ‘07, how about more Double Up tour drama? Media sources report that a protest was held Friday (Dec. 14) outside the venue of Kelly’s Los Angeles tour stop. The protest stems from the fact that the concert will take place at The Forum, a venue owned currently owned by Faithful Central Church, a house of worship pastored by Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer.

 

“R. Kelly is currently facing 14 federal counts of child molestation. Why is the church not giving aid and comfort to the victims of sexual assaults?” Project Islamic HOPE activist Najee Ali said in a statement. “How can the church allow R. Kelly to perform on Friday night, have service on Sunday morning and believe all is well? The message the church is sending to young children is that money is more important than taking a stand in support of victims who have been victimized by R. Kelly and other child molesters.”

 

If the continuing drama surrounding Kelly is a downer, fans can at least take comfort in knowing that their favorite singer, songwriter, producer secured two Grammy nominations for best R&B performance by a duo or group for “Same Girl” and best long form music video for Trapped In the Closet Chapters 13-22.

 

If 2007 was any indication of what 2008 holds then we can take comfort in knowing that R. Kelly will always give us something to pay attention to.

 Sexy ballads and tight collabos? Check. Edge of your seat plot twist in audio soap opera? Check. Real life cliffhangers and surprises that no writer could dream up while waiting for your court case to go to trial sometime this century? Check. The ability to make us listen, watch and care about what happens to him? Priceless.

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