The Evolution of R. Kelly
Kellz believed he could fly—and he was right.
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - Attention, steppers, lovers and happy people everywhere: Today is the born day of one Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known as R. Kelly. And he's done quite a lot with his 45 years on this planet: With classics like "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Bump N' Grind," the superstar singer/songwriter/producer has sold over 150 million records worldwide, making him one of the most most successful R&B artists—or artists of any genre—of all-time. Kellz believed he could fly, and he was right. Click on to follow R. Kelly's journey to legendary status. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - Born on January 8, 1967 on the South Side of Chicago, Kelly began singing in church at eight years old. As a teenager, R. performed on the street under Chicago's elevated train tracks for change. (Photo: Zomba Records)
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - R. Kelly broke into the music biz as a member of the new-jack swing group Public Announcement, who released their debut album Born into the 90's, in 1992. Kelly left the group a year later and embarked on his storied solo career.
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - Kelly's solo debut, 12 Play, was released in the fall of 1993. Brimming with signature R. classics like "Your Body's Callin'" and "Bump n' Grind", his first number-one hit, the album went six-times platinum and immediately established Kelly as an R&B superstar.(Photo: Zomba Records)
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - Kelly crashed the boards yet again with his release of his self-titled second solo release in 1995. Songs like "You Remind Me of Something", "I Can't Sleep Baby (If I)" and "Down Low" (Nobody Has to Know)"—a duet with Ronald Isley, which introduced his infamous "Mr. Big" alter-ego—boosted the album to 4 million sales in the U.S. alone. (Photo: Donna Ward/Getty Images for Arise Made in Africa)
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - Kelly's talents were too much for him to use alone—from the almost the very beginning, he was producing, writing and remixing songs for Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion and many others. One of his early collaborators was a young Aaliyah; he produced and wrote much of her debut, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, though its release was marred by rumors that Aaliyah—who was 15 at the time—and Kelly had been married in secret. (Photos from left to right: Rose Prouser REUTERS /Landov, Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - In 1996, Kelly dropped one of his biggest, most inspirational songs yet with "I Believe I Can Fly" on the soundtrack of the film Space Jam. The song won three Grammys and elevated Kelly's career to a new level. (Photo: MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - Kelly released his epic TP-2.com in 2000, sporting inspirational anthems ("I Wish"), party-starters ("Fiesta") and his signature tongue-in-cheek freak tales ("Feeling on Yo Booty"). The album peaked at No. 1 on Billboard and was certified quadruple-platinum.
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - With the success of their duets "Fiesta" and "Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent", Jay-Z and Kelly announced they would be collaborating on a joint album and tour called The Best of Both Worlds. The project would spawn a host of copy cat efforts over the past decade. (Photo: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
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The Evolution of R. Kelly - The pair followed that up with Unfinished Business, but on the accompanying tour, tension between the two stars reached a boiling point: Kelly was allegedly pepper-sprayed by a Jay-Z associate and then dropped from the tour, prompting the singer to sue Hov.