Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON, By Howard Campbell – R Kelly, the talented but troubled neo-soul singer who was yesterday found guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering in Brooklyn, New York, developed a Jamaican following before he became world-famous as a solo act.
The 54-year-old artiste was found guilty after a five-week trial in which multiple people, including his personal doctor and assistant, gave sensational testimonies about his deviant sexual lifestyle.
Best known for anthems like I Believe I Can Fly, If I Could Turn Back The Hands of Time, and The World’s Greatest, R Kelly faces decades in prison. He will be sentenced on May 4.
The Chicago-born Kelly first came to prominence as a member of Public Announcement, a hometown quartet that announced themselves in 1992 with the sultry hit song, Honey Love.
Kelly — who was compared early in his career to Charlie Wilson of the GAP Band and Aaron Hall of Guy — hit it big in 1993 with 12 Play, his first solo album. It was a multi-platinum seller with songs like Your Body’s Calling, It Seems Like You’re Ready, and a cover of The Spinners’ Sadie.
12 Play earned heavy rotation on Jamaican radio and in hip spots like Cactus and Mirage nightclubs.
R Kelly also wrote and produced some of the decade’s hottest slow jams, such as Stroke You Up by Changing Faces and Down Low (Nobody Has To Know), a massive comeback for The Isley Brothers.
His worth as a singer, songwriter, and producer was overshadowed by stories of him having sex with underage girls, including the singer Aaliyah, whom he reportedly married when she was 15 after discovering she was pregnant.
That was one of several powerful testimonies given during the trial.
At the height of his popularity in 1994, R Kelly performed at the Jamworld Entertainment Complex in Portmore. His appearance is remembered more for him, controversially, dropping his pants on stage, rather than the music.
In June 2012, R Kelly was a headliner for Reggae Sumfest at Catherine Hall in Montego Bay. His well-received set was not without incident – he was late and appeared intoxicated.
Five years later, the mercurial singer stunned patrons at Groovin’ in The Park at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York. He delivered a profanity-laced, crotch-grabbing set that did not go over well with the largely Jamaican audience.