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Jay-Z Boots R. Kelly

Tensions reach breaking point on Best of Both Worlds

November 1, 2004 12:00 AM ET

R. Kelly has been kicked off the Best of Both Worlds Tour, his joint outing with Jay-Z, after a dispute between the two performers Friday night at New York's Madison Square Garden.

During his performance, Kelly abruptly left the stage, claiming he saw two people in the audience with guns. After a search turned up no weapon, Kelly was returning to the stage when he and two of his bodyguards were hit in the face with pepper spray by a member of Jay-Z's entourage, according to Kelly's publicist. Kelly was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital, treated for his injuries and released. Jay-Z played his set as scheduled that night.

In an interview on New York radio station Hot 97, Jay-Z voiced his displeasure with Kelly's leaving the stage, and admitted that tensions between the two performers had been growing. "This is just disrespectful," he said. "Everybody better grab their Best of Both Worlds albums [Jay-Z and Kelly's collaborative Best of Both Worlds (2002) and its just-released follow-up Unfinished Business], because that's it . . . I went way out of my way. The first night [in Chicago] was terrible. I'm waiting in my white suit for two hours. The guy don't come downstairs . . . you don't do that."

"The fans deserve better than this," Kelly said in a statement. "I'd like the show to go on. It's really disappointing that Jay-Z and the promoter don't." Kelly is considering taking legal action.

On Saturday, Jay-Z performed again at the Garden, with special guests Mariah Carey, P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes and Method Man taking the stage to offset the loss of Kelly. "I want you to know that one monkey don't stop the show," Jay-Z said from the stage. He plans to play again tonight at the Garden without Kelly.

Originally slated to hit forty cities, the troubled tour's stops in Connecticut, Cincinnati and Milwaukee were canceled earlier, and Kelly cut his set short last week in St. Louis.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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