R. Kelly chronicled his strange, stunning life and rise to fame in a 2012 memoir, The Soulacoaster, but in a new video for GQ, the R&B star presents his story the way it was meant to be told: In song.
Specifically, a 45-minute musical-spoken word odyssey that mixes improvised storytelling and song (an abridged version is also available). Cigar in hand, R. Kelly recounts his tumultuous childhood on the South Side of Chicago, how he discovered his voice by singing in the shower and started his career as a street performer competing with the trains that roared past him on subway platforms.
But amidst his tales of success, R. Kelly continued to flash back to his childhood, singing about his absent father and, near the end, his mother’s strict rules about how far he could ride his bike around their neighborhood. The latter tale began innocently as Kelly remembered how he would ride his Huffy as if it were a Harley Davidson — when suddenly a gun shot rang out and he discovered blood dripping from a bullet-hole in his shoulder.
Though Kelly refrained from addressing some of the more controversial moments of his career, the video is a fitting complement to GQ‘s recent profile on the singer. In the piece, R. Kelly spoke about his life unfettered and even addressed the various lawsuits he’s settled with women who accused him of allegations that include sex with underage girls. Kelly reiterated his innocence and said he regretted not facing his accusers in court, because if he settles a lawsuit, he’s then immediately presumed guilty. “I think that’s how normal people think who don’t know and understand the life of a celebrity,” Kelly said.