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R. Kelly Interviewed by Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy (No, Really): The Highlights

The current issue of Interview magazine--the celebrities-talking-to-other-celebrities journal invented by Andy Warhol--features an interview with Aziz Anzari-impersonator (and strangest person in the whole music industry) R. Kelly. The interviewer?: indie man of many hats Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy). Here are the highlights:

R. Kelly on 30 Rock, the Baldwins:

WILL OLDHAM: Do you watch 30 Rock?

R. KELLY: No. What's that?

OLDHAM: It's a television show, a comedy, that takes place in all of these hallways. It's pretty funny. It's, like, a good sitcom. It's got Alec Baldwin. You know Alec Baldwin?

KELLY: Alec Baldwin? Yeah! Don't he have a brother and they all kind of look alike?

OLDHAM: They're, like, four brothers.

KELLY: Steve Baldwin . . .

OLDHAM: Yeah, exactly. [laughs]

R. Kelly on being possessed by Sam Cooke:

OLDHAM: But do you remember the day when it started? When did you start to think, I'm making a record about love?

KELLY: Well, a party that I gave at my house influenced me. I gave a Christmas party last year--well, two Christmases ago--where I did a Sam Cooke show. I didn't perform as R. Kelly. I performed the Sam Cooke show from 1964, when he performed at the Copacabana.

OLDHAM: You performed the whole set?

KELLY: I did the whole set. [...]It was about a two-and-a-half-hour show that I put together in my living room. Built a stage and catwalk. I had the bulb lights and everything. I had tap dancers. I had a girl with me who sounded just like Billie Holiday. I had a guy who sounded just like Frank Sinatra. And then I did Sam Cooke. We had the marquee on the outside of the door, and I went and got old-school pictures of myself and we put them up like I was born back then and performing back then.

R. Kelly on how to throw a party, R. Kelly style:

KELLY: I wanted it to just be this thing that's special, where you don't want nobody else to see it--you just want to look at it yourself, know what I'm saying? I felt like people have fun with concepts like that--even when you throw a party. You say, "Okay, everybody gotta come in with a broom and a witch hat and it's a witch party." You know what I mean? "Everybody gotta come already drunk."

OLDHAM: Have you ever said that for one of your parties--like, "Everybody has to come drunk"?

KELLY: "Prove you're wasted. Walk a straight line . . . Oops! That girl fell. She gets to sit in the VIP section." [both laugh] Nah, man, I've never done that.

R. Kelly on making his version of Thriller:

OLDHAM: So what happened to the Zodiac album?

KELLY: I've changed the name to The Return of 12 Play: Night of the Living Dead. I think it'll be an R&B-like thriller album, if you will.

R. Kelly's endorsement of the vuvuzela:

KELLY: You ever see the movie Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [1931], where all of the electricity is just going into one body? That's what I felt like. I felt like all of that love, all of that energy, and the sprit of Africa was being shot into me through the vuvuzelas, like I was a son of Africa. There's just no other way to describe it, man.

R. Kelly and Will Oldham maybe discussing weed or masturbation or suppositories:

KELLY: I don't fly around America. I flew to Africa because it was a mission. It was something that I felt that I should do. So I did it and I got comfortable with it a little bit. When I fly, I do something to get myself to sleep real fast when I get on the plane, if you know what I'm talking about.

OLDHAM: Yeah. [laughs]


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