New R. Kelly LP Includes Akon, Jeezy, ‘Flirt’ — But No ‘Closet’ Till July

Album also features Snoop, Luda, several outside producers.

If you’re wondering why Bow Wow doesn’t appear in the video for his R. Kelly-featured song “I’m a Flirt” — even though the song appears on Bow’s latest album, Price of Fame — well, it’s because the video version is a remix. And that Bow Wow-less remix is now the official first single from R. Kelly’s new album, Double Up, now due May 29.

Kelly’s version features T.I. and T-Pain, and as the Pied Piper’s camp tells it, the King of R&B (he actually wears a crown in the new video) had single rights to the song all along; it’s an unlisted bonus track on Bow Wow’s LP, and his label was barred from promoting the song to radio. However, that hasn’t stopped it from getting airplay: In an unusual twist, Billboard is counting the two versions as one song on its singles charts, credited, a little confusingly, to “Bow Wow or R. Kelly (featuring T.I. & T-Pain)”.

Tip and Pain are just a sample of the star power that Kells has rounded up for his LP. Young Jeezy, Akon, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell have all collaborated with the singer already, and Kelly’s camp says he is still recording and just might pull in another major player from the Midwest for the project.

Unlike most of the R’s albums, on this one he has opened up some of the production and songwriting duties to outsiders. Newcomer Lil Ronnie (who has also worked with Ruben Studdard) produced the “Flirt” remix, while award-winning songwriter Sean Garrett (Usher, Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé) also loaned his pen to a couple of songs. The Runners, known for their production on Rick Ross’ Port of Miami as well as Young Jeezy’s Kelly-assisted “Go Getta,” have also supplied some tracks.

“It was definitely an honor to work with the R, especially since he doesn’t work with too many producers on his albums,” said half of the Runners, Andrew “Dru Brett” Harr.

“He really gets into his songs,” added Harr’s partner, Jermaine “Mayne” Jackson. “On one song, he set up a pulpit in the vocal booth, just to get that church feeling. He really looked like a preacher on Sunday.”

And, to answer the question of all the fans who want to see more of Sylvester and all the “Trapped in the Closet” players, there is more to come. The next chapters won’t be included on Double Up, but there is a DVD coming out in July that will continue the R&B soap opera (see “R. Kelly Heading Back To ‘Closet’; Ready To Tee Up New Album” ).

Over the past few weeks, Kelly has kept his profile on the upside with a string of song cameos, including the original “Flirt,” “Go Getta” and Fat Joe’s “Make it Rain” remix.