The Evolution of R. Kelly

Kellz believed he could fly—and he was right.

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)

1 / 14

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)

/content/dam/betcom/images/2011/08/Music-08.01-08.15/081011-music-r-kelly.jpg

2 / 14

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)

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.

3 / 14

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.

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)

4 / 14

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)

R. Kelly (@KellZodiac)  - TWEET: "What up ya’ll! I’m finally near the end of writing my life story book, Soulacoaster. Now I know some of you guys didn’t think I was coming out with it- but I am - it’ll be out Spring 2012."Kellz dispels the rumor that his memoir won't be published. (Photo: Donna Ward/Getty Images for Arise Made in Africa)

5 / 14

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)

ADVERTISEMENT
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)

6 / 14

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)

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)

7 / 14

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)

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.

8 / 14

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.

R. Kelly Freaks Out - What should've been one of Jay-Z's most triumphant onstage moments ? he and R. Kelly joining forces at Madison Square Garden for their Best of Both Worlds Tour in 2004 ? became one of the most bizarre when Kelly stormed off mid-set, claiming audience-members were waving guns. Right after, Kelly got into an altercation with members of Hov's crew backstage and ended up getting pepper sprayed. Needless to say, the tour collapsed, leaving a trail of lawsuits and salty interviews in its wake. (Photo: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

9 / 14

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)

Jay-Z and R. Kelly - Collaborations like R. Kelly?s ?Fiesta? Remix and Jay-Z?s ?Guilty Til Proven Innocent? made a full-length album between these two music gods a no-brainer. ?Best of Both Worlds? went platinum in ?02 amidst Kellz?s sex tape scandal and a lack of promotion. Two years later, outtakes from the ?Worlds? sessions, ?Unfinished Business,? hit stores and struck platinum as well.

10 / 14

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.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Evolution of R. Kelly  - Kellz' fifth studio album, Chocolate Factory, was a massive hit despite the controversy, spawning several Kelly classics ("Ignition," "Step in the Name of Love" and debuting at No. 1 on Billboard.  (Photo: Steve Marcus/REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun)

11 / 14

The Evolution of R. Kelly  - Kellz' fifth studio album, Chocolate Factory, was a massive hit despite the controversy, spawning several Kelly classics ("Ignition," "Step in the Name of Love" and debuting at No. 1 on Billboard.  (Photo: Steve Marcus/REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun)

The Evolution of R. Kelly  - In 2005, Kelly began releasing chapters of his twisted yet hilarious so-called hip-hopera "Trapped in the Closet," one of his most original and ambitious projects yet.(Photo: Zomba records)

12 / 14

The Evolution of R. Kelly  - In 2005, Kelly began releasing chapters of his twisted yet hilarious so-called hip-hopera "Trapped in the Closet," one of his most original and ambitious projects yet.(Photo: Zomba records)

The Evolution of R. Kelly  - Despite the increasing number of candles on his birthday cakes, Kelly has been as busy as ever. In 2010 he released two albums, Epic and the classic-soul throwback Love Letters.  (Photo: Zomba Records)

13 / 14

The Evolution of R. Kelly - Despite the increasing number of candles on his birthday cakes, Kelly has been as busy as ever. In 2010 he released two albums, Epic and the classic-soul throwback Love Letters. (Photo: Zomba Records)

/content/dam/betcom/images/2011/11/Music-11-01-11-15/110911-music-r-kelly-soula-coaster.jpg

14 / 14

The Evolution of R. Kelly - R. Kelly is set to drop a memoir, Soulcoaster, and a new album, Black Panties, this year.