Another R. Kelly bootleg has hit the streets, and the singer says he's finally starting to see the light.
"Somebody got it out of my studio because I've got too many people in the studio," Kelly told MTV News recently in Atlanta, where he was taking a break from working on his latest LP, Loveland. "These are things that I'm trying to change in my life: The women thing, the so-called friends thing. I probably spent like $2 million a year on just Chinese food and pizza for everybody 'cause I've got these 10 people in the studio that don't sing or that don't produce.
"I have a problem with trusting people, just like I have a problem being around the wrong people, and this has led me to something like this people taking my CDs out of the studio and selling them."
The bootleg being peddled as Loveland features 15 songs, most of them new to the masses with the exception of "The World's Greatest," "Come to Daddy" (featured on the pirated The Best of Both Worlds) and a dramatic Broadway musical-like remix of "I Believe I Can Fly" (performed on his TP-2 tour last year).
The bootleg is a mixture of inspirational songs that follow the theme of "The World's Greatest" and love ballads that are drastically toned down from his more bawdy hits like "Sex Me" and "You Remind Me of Something."
"All I" is reminiscent of that late '60s, early '70s type of Al Green soul and features Kelly singing from the perspective of an inmate counting the days until he's released and can return to his lover.
"Sitting by myself in my cell/ Loneliness," he starts off singing. "I'm caught up in a whirlwind/ Like the little girl and her dog ... / All I wanna do is/ Make it home/ Get it on with you."
"In the Name of Love" is a little more fast-paced, with Kelly implementing those chimes he so often uses. "It's like moving a mountain/ Love can be just that tough," Kelly sings to a girl who has caught his fancy. He then tells her that making love to her makes him want to snap his finger and clap his hands, all in the name of love.
"Make Me" is another feel-good song about being enamored. The piano is thumping, bringing out the funk, and all Kelly can do is delight in the relationship. "You are the champ," he sings to her. "You knock me out."
"Spirit," which is basically a gospel song, starts off the CD. The song finds Kelly trying to be set free and seeking a celestial being to lead him into heaven's pearly gates. "I can see my destination/ I can hear my call/ No more hesitation/ This time I'm going for all/ I know where this road leads to/ Therefore I will rise/ I know this dream will come true/ I will soar the sky."
Bootleggers are having a field day this year with Kelly's material. His joint effort with Jay-Z, The Best of Both Worlds, was leaked weeks before its proper due date, forcing its release to be pushed up a week (see "Jay-Z Shoots New Video, Unsure If Clip With R. Kelly Will Come").
And of course, Chicago police are still investigating him for allegedly having sex with a minor and videotaping it (see "R. Kelly Speaks: 'I'm No Monster' "). That footage has become a popular item on the street the past couple of months as well.
Kelly's spokesperson at Jive was not available for comment.
Loveland isn't due until November, and its author doesn't rule out talking about his current problems in song.
"I've always been a writer that writes from experience, and I've always said that whatever I experience, it motivates me somehow to write because my music is like a shield. ... If I'm hurt I write. If I'm happy I gonna write. If I'm in between, I'm gonna write about it and that's how that is. I don't feel that this has affected my music in any way. It has made me wanna writeabout it because it's something that I'm experiencing."
For a feature interview with R. Kelly, see "R. Kelly: In His Own Words."
For complete coverage of the R. Kelly sex tape scandal, see The R. Kelly Reports.
Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by John Norris