“Interview” by Rebecca Haithcoat and Gustavo Turner.
R. Kelly is a god-level genius and he's coming to town this week. He puts on some of the most amazing performances we've seen, with a kind of old-school showbiz know-how rarely seen these days outside of old Sinatra or James Brown YouTube clips. You should do whatever it takes to go. Usually we'd run an interview with R. Kelly here, but R. Kelly doesn't do interviews (unless it's with indie weirdo Will Oldham for Interview magazine — look it up). So we had to get creative:
L.A. WEEKLY: You've had more than a few scandals. How do you manage to always come back?
R. KELLY: I'm just bein' real, you know? I'm like the sun, trying to shine on everybody, you know what I'm sayin'? But it's, like, situation after situation, you know? So I write about it to get it off my chest. You smile in my face and tell me that you love, but then before you know the truth, you're so quick to judge me. Man, I tell you, it's enough to make you wanna give it up. Thank God for my fans. I'm a grown man with kids now, stakes are higher. Gotta go to church now to avoid the fire.
Spirituality is as strong a theme in your music as sex.
Y'all look at me and say, “Boy, you've been blessed.” But y'all don't see the inside of my unhappiness. Man, I swear this shit gets heavy like a ton. I wonder how my friends would treat me now if I wasn't iced up with a Bentley and a house! Sometimes I feel like it's too late for me. The trying times, the sleepless nights. See, I was on the verge of breakin' down. Voices in my head be telling me to come to church, saying the Lord is the only way to stop the hurt.
You were conflicted about cheating in “Down Low,” the video for which was a warning. Have you ever taken another man's woman?
When it comes down to these hos, I don't love 'em. Man, that's just the way it goes. I'm a chick magnet, and if she got a man, I don't care. The moral of the story is cuff your chick, 'cause hey, I'm black, fresh, and I rap. Plus I'm rich, and I'm a flirt. Believe me, man, this is how them playas do it in the Chi.
But you must know a woman will eventually leave a man who acts like that.
When a woman's fed up, it ain't nothing you can do about it. You can cry a river, but she will always remember she's a woman scorned. And if you ever get her back? It will never be the same.
As a purveyor of quiet storm slow jams, how do you approach a woman?
Turn the lights down low, I'm ready to break it off. Come on in, and let's keep it real and go half on a baby. Let's quit playing around and let's get our ass under these covers. When a woman loves, she loves for real. I like to tell her I'm forever indebted.
What turns you on?
In the kitchen, cooking me a meal. Something makes me wanna come in there and get a feel. Cutting up tomatoes, fruits, vegetables and potatoes.
What do you enjoy doing in Los Angeles?
Crystal poppin' in the stretch Navigator, we got food everywhere as if the party was catered. We got fellas to my left, hunnies on my right, we bring 'em both together we got [unclear] all night.
And after the show?
After the show it's the after party.
And after that?
After the party it's the hotel lobby and 'round about 4 you gotta clear the lobby, then take it to the room and freak somebody.
Thank you, Mr. Kelly.
Bounce bounce, bounce bounce, bounce bounce bounce.
R. Kelly performs Sat., June 11, 8 p.m., and Sun., June 12, 7 p.m., at Nokia Theatre.