BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
Last holiday season, R. Kelly hit the road to support his album “12 Nights of Christmas,” which included a stop at the Fox Theatre.
Prior to his performance, I talked with Kelly by phone from Detroit, where the tour was slated to kick off the next night.
At the time, he said he no longer lived in Atlanta, but spent time in the area “here and there,” a classification patently untrue according to the explosive account this week from veteran music journalist Jim DeRogatis, who spent nine months detailing the accusations that Kelly is holding women against their will at his properties in Chicago and Duluth.
We primarily talked about his then-new Christmas album (on which he said he “went as R. Kelly as I could”) and some of the songs on the album that displayed a sexier vibe than most holiday material.
“(With ‘Mrs. Santa Claus’), there is a Mrs. Santa and I do believe that Santa Claus makes love, so I’m just writing life, that’s all. Whenever I write I don’t like to beat around the bush – I think that’s why my fans stick with me. Real people recognize real people. I’ve always seen a snowman standing by himself in the cold and felt sorry for him, so I thought he needed a snowgirl,” Kelly said.
His show a few nights later at the Fox wasn’t the “I Believe I Can Fly” fare that many in the audience seemed to expect.
Instead, Kelly complained that he was given a rundown backstage about “What I can say, what I can’t say. What I can touch, what I can’t touch.” That apparently didn’t include asking some women in the front row to rub certain parts of his body.
My review also noted that Kelly, “strode onstage with a microphone in one hand and a stogie in the other, declared early that he was ‘drunk as hell,’ used a bounty of expletives during his incessant talking between and during songs and, for the first hour of the show, concentrated on sex-obsessed grooves including ‘The Zoo,’ ‘Strip for You’ and ‘Feelin’ on Yo Booty.’