R. Kelly Talks About His In-Concert Michael Jackson Tribute

'Michael Jackson is one of the biggest reasons R. Kelly is in the game right now,' Kells says of honoring MJ.

R. Kelly concludes his recent Ladies Make Some Noise Tour this weekend and said the trek has been a blessing.

“It was a thrill. I hadn’t been on the road in, like, two or three years, expressing myself live,” he told MTV News recently. [artist id=”10489″]Kelly[/artist] also said the most exciting part of the tour is hearing the screams, seeing his fans and feeling the unity.

One of the highlights of the concert is Kelly’s tribute to the late [artist id=”1102″]Michael Jackson[/artist].

“Michael Jackson being gone is like our breath, our musical breath, being taken away,” Kelly says in his videotaped message. “But I’m not gonna let him die.”

Then home-movie footage of Jackson and director Brett Ratner dancing in a vehicle to the sounds of Kells’ “Ignition” appears on the screen. R. told us that the King of Pop wanted a song like it of his very own.

“Michael told me one day, he said, ’I wanna know if you can write a song like “Ignition” for me — I love that song,’ ” Kelly explained. “I was like, ’Mike, man, “Ignition” is not a “Thriller,” but much like “Thriller,” those type of songs will probably never happen [again]. It’ll never happen again. I’m sorry.’ ”

But Kelly was extremely humbled when he saw Jackson dancing to “Ignition” and felt compelled to put the footage in his show.

“I cried the first time I saw him on YouTube, and I couldn’t believe he was in the backseat of the car. He was jamming [to my song],” he said. “You can tell he was into it. He was feeling it. It was like, ’Wow, he’s doing my music. He’s singing to my music.’ It was unbelievable. I knew I made it when I saw that. You can sing songs forever. I’ve written a lot of songs, and they went around the world. I’ve won all types of awards, but let me tell y’all something — nothing, nothing told me, I didn’t know I made it until I saw Michael Jackson in the back of that car performing and dancing to my song ’Ignition.’ That’s when it became official. I’ve been in the game 20 years, but that’s when it became official to me that Kells is here, baby, for real.”

The video homage to Jackson segues into a montage of Michael’s performances and videos. Kelly sings, “Don’t say goodbye to me/ There is no need to/ Don’t say goodbye to me, because I’m still with you/ Don’t say goodbye to me, don’t shed a tear/ Because I’m still here/ Go light a candle and say a prayer/ Scream out victory, ’cause love is still there.”

“I do dedicate a segment of the show to Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson is one of the biggest reasons R. Kelly is in the game right now. It’s amazing,” he explained.

Kelly sped up his wardrobe change so that he could watch the video every night from backstage.

“It made me feel like he was still alive,” Kelly smiled. “It made me feel like I still have the chance to go to the level that Michael took it to. It brings me back to what real music is and how it touches and pierces the soul. That’s what my mission is.”

R. Kelly’s Untitled is in stores now.