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 Hidden cameras, scandalous headlines and 21 charges of child pornography ...



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 As his legal problems mount, Kelly hooks up with Britney, J. Lo and others ...



Page 3


 Kelly insists he's no monster, but some fans smash his CDs in protest ...



Page 4


 Kelly hits it big by toning down the sex talk and revving up 'Ignition' ...





 R. Kelly: In His Own Words



 Mary J. Blige: Love Of My Life



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— by Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Jennifer Vineyard

Robert Kelly is a man with energy. The 36-year-old singer starts his day sparring with a boxing partner and follows that up with a few hours of full-court basketball. Kelly completes his ironman routine in the studio, where he often works through the night until 1 p.m. the next afternoon.

It's there, in the isolated confines of his Rock Land recording studio, that Kelly has arguably been doing some of the best work of his career lately. In the process of returning to the top of his game, friends say, he's crafted "thousands" of tracks that are just waiting to be let out.

Not far from Rock Land, however, Kelly is accused of making recordings of a different sort. Recordings more explicit in nature than anything the lascivious R&B singer has ever talked about in his songs, which carry titles like "I Like the Crotch on You" and "Feelin' on Yo Booty."

  Teflon Supertar
MTV News Video Report

In Kelly's former $2 million Lincoln Park mansion, several rooms were purportedly equipped with video cameras — some allegedly to tape him having sex. After he sold the property, the new owners said that in addition to the cameras, they found letters from Aaliyah in a hidden compartment and money stuffed in the pipes. Though they renovated the property, they kept such Kelly touches as a keyless entry system on the master bedroom that prevented anyone from walking in on Kelly unannounced, and a basement-level hot tub room. It is in that room where Kelly allegedly made the tape at the heart of his child pornography scandal.

The singer's alleged performance on that tape would overshadow what was supposed to be one of his biggest musical performances when, on February 8, 2002, news of the video broke in the Chicago Sun-Times just hours before Kelly sang at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The Sun-Times reported it had received a 27-minute video of Kelly having sex with various women, and most troubling, the paper said, one scene appeared to show Kelly having sex with an underage girl and urinating on her face. Kelly's former protégé Sparkle would eventually say the young girl on the tape was her then 14-year-old niece.

Kelly's lawyer released a statement saying that no tape existed of his client having sex with an underage female. Four days after the Sun-Times article, Kelly told a Utah TV station the tape was part of a blackmail plot.

"I have a few people in the past that I've fired ... people that I've thought were my friends that's not my friends," he said. "Ever since then, it's been threats on what they're gonna do to me, and ... if I don't pay them this, they'll put a story out ... and when I refuse to pay them, now here comes this story. ... The world is getting ready to watch me sing a song called 'The World's Greatest' [at the Olympics,] and you've got a tape out there trying to ruin my career."

Many people took note that nowhere in this interview did Kelly actually deny making the tape. Following months of investigating, in June police arrested the self-proclaimed pied piper of R&B in Florida and extradited him to Chicago to face 21 counts of child pornography.

The scandal would've ruined the careers of most public figures, but as the charts, the sales figures and the concert receipts have gone on to show, R. Kelly is as popular as ever. If, as Kelly suggested, the tape was the result of someone trying to ruin his career, their attempt has failed. R. Kelly is on a roll.


Next: As his legal problems mount, Kelly hooks up with Britney, J. Lo and others ...
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