You described yourself as a survivor. When critics try to bring up certain things from your past, how do you weather that?
R. KELLY The more a soldier wins, the more the other soldiers want to take him out. You have to know how to metaphorically and spiritually use your gift to be your shield. So I shield myself with my gift. I stay behind it and I continue to make music. And when the music is sharpened, I shoot it out there. I’m not a master, but I learned a lot from my teacher Lena McLin. She was basically my Ms. Miyagi and I was her Daniel-san. I would listen to everything she would tell me and I’m still doing that today.
Was it a strategic decision after 20 years to return to the original R. Kelly sound?
RK It was really for my fans. Everyone has been asking me when I’m going to do another baby-making album, because that’s what started me out. I’ve been all around the world musically, in every genre. I can write “I Believe I Can Fly,” and I can write “Bump ’N’ Grind.” Now is the time to bring it back around.
Is it true you’re planning a sequel to the record?
RK Absolutely. It’s called White Panties. And you can expect a whole other level.
Why did you decide to enlist artists like 2 Chainz and Future?
RK When I’m in the studio, I let my music and my lyrics do a kind of casting call. My music feels like a movie to me. I can hear in my head who should be on the song, and then I make a call. With 2 Chainz and Future, these guys respect my music and I respect what they do, so it’s just like a hand going into a glove.
What about working with Lady Gaga? V has a special relationship with her. What has it been like collaborating and performing together?
RK It’s amazing, man. It’s an honor to be working with greatness. When I say that I say it with all my heart, because she is great on the stage and off. She is so talented. I was doing a show and she ended up on the side of the stage with her friends watching. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I was wondering why people were screaming so loud! After the show she ended up giving me a call about a track and I was like, “Hell yeah! Send it to me, let me hear what it is!” The next thing you know, it was all over the radio.
To read the full interview, you’ll need to pick up a copy of V88.