R. Kelly has been nothing short of a musical phenomenon for over a decade. His masterful fusion of R&B, gospel, pop, hip-hop, and classic soul has garnered him more top-forty hits (fifteen) than any other male solo artist of the 90's. As a singer, songwriter, producer, and remixer, he has earned multi-platinum sales, multi-format successes, numerous awards, sold-out world tours, and international praise. He has written and produced songs for Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Luther Vandross, Notorious B.I.G., Kirk Franklin, and Toni Braxton.
And with the release of his stunning fifth solo album, "TP-2.COM" (Jive Records), R. Kelly further establishes himself as one of the most prolific, groundbreaking, and gifted musicians working today. All songs on "TP-2.COM" are written, performed, arranged, and produced by Kelly, and his distinct blend of smooth talk, soaring vocals, and urban beats are resonant in every track. From passionate longing of the first single "I Wish" to the introspective slow jam "I Don't Mean It," "TP-2.COM" is yet another achievement in R.Kelly's eclectic and triumphant musical journey.
Born in 1969, the thirty-one year old Kelly grew up on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. "It was rough," Kelly says of his childhood, "but it was fair ... got me where I am today mentally." Spending most of his youth playing basketball and getting into trouble, it wasn't until high school that Kelly discovered his passion for music. Prompted by his music teacher and eager to get a better grade, he entered a school talent show. Singing Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky," and acting as if he were blind, he won the contest. He resolved then that the life of a musician was his calling. Says Kelly, "I hadn't got that kind of love on the basketball court so I decided that day that this was what I wanted to do." Kelly soon began busking for change with his electronic keyboard on the South Side streets and the rest is pop music history.
Kelly made his first impact in 1991 with his backing band Public Announcement. The Album "Born Into the 90's," released to critical acclaim on Jive Records, became a number three selling R&B title, and spurned the top forty hits "Honey Love" and "Dedicated" as well as the top ten R&B smashes "She's Got that Vibe" and "Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ)." Certified platinum in 1992, "Born into the 90's" introduced Kelly as a potent Pop and R&B force. Kelly's 1993 sophomore effort, "12 Play," solidified his massive crossover appeal. He hit number one on the both the Hot 100 and R&B singles chart with "Bump N' Grind," and also scored multi-format hits with "Your Body's Calling" and "Sex Me Parts I and II." With his distinct and sexually charged sound and lyrics, the album was certified five-times platinum a year later, and R. Kelly was firmly established in the pantheon of 90's Pop and R&B giants.
Following this success, Kelly found himself in huge demand as a writer, Producer, and mixer. He remixed Janet Jackson's "Anytime, Anyplace" which soared to number one. He wrote, produced, and arranged the vocals for Michael Jackson's global number one hit "You are Not Alone." Over the nexttwo years, he wrote and produced "When You Call my Name" for Luther Vandross, the international smash "G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T." for Changing Faces, guested on Notorious B.I.G.'s "Life After Death," wrote and performed on Mary J. Blige's "It's On," and wrote and produced Toni Braxton's hit "I Don't Want To."
Kelly's third album for Jive, the eponymous "R. Kelly," was released at the end of 1995 and became his first number one Pop and R&B title. The album sparked three number one R&B tracks, three top five Pop hits, and sold more than five millions copies. In 1997, he struck gold with the international number one, gospel-inspired anthem "I Believe I Can Fly" from the Warner Brothers film "Space Jam." The song swept the 1998 Grammy Awards, winning three statuettes, including "Best R&B Male Vocal Performance," "Best R&B Song," and "Best Songwriter." Kelly describes "I Believe I Can Fly" as his greatest achievement to date. "It mattered the most not only to me," he says, "but the world and it did a lot of people some good ... to make us all feel like we can all love ... that song had no color."
In November of 1998, Kelly released "R.," the sprawling, ambitious double CD, which debuted at number two on the Billboard 200. Diverse and accomplished, this eclectic collection featured a wide range of musical styles and incorporated the sounds of such disparate artists as Jay-Z, Celine Dion, Foxy Brown, and Nas. Producing two number one songs, "I'm Your Angel" (the duet with Celine Dion) and "Half on a Baby," the album was certified six-times platinum.
This all leads to R. Kelly's latest record, the nineteen track "TP-2.COM" which debuted at number one in November of 2000. Considering this to be a follow-up to his first multi-platinum record "Twelve Play," Kelly describes his latest work as "taking it back to the bedroom."
"TP-2.COM's" first single "I Wish" is already a multi-format smash. Other tracks on "TP-2.COM" such as "A Woman's Threat," "I Don't Mean It," and "Just Like That," return Kelly to his "Twelve Play's" capriciously sexual and soulful sounds, without losing the inspirational and gospel qualities of his later work. Highly personal yet universal in scale, he hopes "TP-2.com" gives his audience insight into both himself and the world around him. "From this LP," he says, "I want [listeners] to feel that they can reach out and touch me, call me whenever. I want them to feel like they can touch the sky, leap over the moon. I want them to feel like they can accomplish their goals ... I want them to just feel free."
His message has certainly captured his audience. Certified 2x platinum after just six weeks of release, "TP-2.COM" is shaping up to be Kelly's biggest record to date and continues this savvy and multi-talented artist's decade-long tradition of trenchant and compelling musical work.
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