Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Parlé, 2009

In this two-part interview R. Kelly talks about 20-plus years in the music business, the new album, Untitled, and his thoughts on love and relationships!

There is no doubt that when it comes to making music and creating hit records today, ten years or even 15 years ago, R. Kelly is one of the best. Hearing him speak about his craft you can hear his passion, probably more than any artist I’ve ever spoken to. Music obviously flows through him and more than ever I believe he is the R in R & B.

Over the last few years a lot of people have developed newfound opinions of Kelly for whatever personal reasons, but the passing of Michael Jackson earlier this year served as a great example of how we often forget the greats in our African-American community, at least until they pass away. I refuse to not give credit to those who are deserving of it, while they are still alive. Last I checked, all the negative has been cleared up and is in the past, it’s time we give credit where its do.

We had the opportunity to interview Kelly recently, here's a look at what he had to say.

Parlé: You’ve been in the industry since the late 80’s, with the game changing around you so much, how have you been able to stay consistent and remain one of the biggest name is music?

R. Kelly: I stay consistent in what I do and try to remain one of the biggest names in the industry by continuing to write life and not songs. I figure as long as people are living on this earth and they can relate to a real song that’s about real life then I will always have a chance to be in the game and continue to upgrade my skills.

Parlé: Having accomplished so much up to this point, what would you consider to be the next level for your career? What needs to happen in order for you to get there?

R. Kelly: I’ve accomplished so much at this point just by observing people, hearing what they say, watching how they party and I write about it. I believe as time goes on if I continue to write about people and what I see, I’ll be able to continue to grow with my music.

Parlé: Some people have criticized your approach of late with music saying you’ve stepped away from the classic R & B for a more new age sound, why the change in your music?

R. Kelly: There hasn’t been a change in my music, there’s just been an upgrade in it. You’re not going to just drive the same old car around all the time if you have the opportunity to get a new car. You’re not going to just use the same old phone if you have the opportunity to upgrade your phone. I chose to continue to upgrade my music and when you have long term fans sometimes it takes them a minute to grab onto what’s new and fresh but once their ears get used to hearing it, they’ll be able to accept it and grow with me. If I want them to continue to grow with me, I have to continue to remix my career.

Parlé: Let’s talk about the album, Untitled, first of all why did you decide to go with that title?

R. Kelly: I have been in this business for twenty years. I’ve been blessed to write hits for several artists. I decided on this particular album, not to call it anything. I want you to call it what you wanna call it. I just had my swag attitude, my alter ego thing going on. I feel like whatever the fan’s favorite song is from the album, that’s the name of the album for them.

Parlé: There were a lot of leaks with this album and you had a lot of time to work on it, what can listeners expect from this album?

R. Kelly: In my own opinion, I would say this is the new, upgraded When I went in I wanted to come out with an upgraded and I’ve done just that.

Parlé: Another first for this album for you was going to Atlanta to record. Why Atlanta? How did that affect the sound?

R. Kelly: I chose Atlanta because I wanted to go and meet new producers. To me it was like a producer’s convention. I just wanted to go there and collaborate with new people and get a fresher feel for what I wanted to do. I had been so used to doing it at my home in Chicago that I felt like I needed to break out and go somewhere else. It’s a lot of talented people in Atlanta and Atlanta is like Chicago’s cousin. So I felt like I could be at home still, but yet be away. It was a great opportunity going to go to Atlanta work with new people on the Untitled album.

Parlé: What stands out for you about this album compared to past work?

R. Kelly: Sometimes you can upgrade something and it’s not as good as it used to be; it’s too new. I made sure this album wasn’t too new, but upgraded enough so that they could still get a good feeling of the R. Kelly that they knew and at the same time upgrade the album so they could feel its fresh still. A fresh feeling to their ears.

Parlé: Will the fans that have been with you since day 1 still be able to relate to you on this album?

R. Kelly: I know without a doubt, my fans ol’ skool and new will be able to relate to the album because of the simple fact that it’s ol’ skool and new and it meets right in the middle.

Parlé: What do you think about the state of R & B right now?

R. Kelly: I think R & B is cruising right now and I think it was kinda losing its soul. That’s why I felt it was important to come out with the Untitled album. I wanted to help put the soul back in R & B because I don’t care how much Hip-Hop you listen to, Rap, Pop, all of that, I love it all, but its just something soulful about good R & B music. I try to keep the souls of people alive. Music touches the soul, you write with the soul in it. That’s what I try to do, continue to put the soul in it. I think R & B is gonna be alright, you know…R. Kelly is coming out!

Parlé: What was the biggest risk that you took in the studio while making this album?

R. Kelly: The biggest risk on this album I would have to say is having the song “Be My #2” because it was such a different track, a different feel. Even though the subject is real, the sound of the music, the sound of the track, the melody, the way I’m singing it, I took a chance with that one.

Parlé: What’s it like touring for this project?

R. Kelly: Being out on tour is very exciting and fun. People know your album is getting ready to drop, but I’m not really doing any of the songs that’s on the new album. The fans are getting some of the ol’ skool R. Kelly as well as some of the new songs and collaborations that I’ve done. I think it’s exciting because once they get the album they’ll get another “first” of R. Kelly. The next time around we’ll go on tour with all of the new new stuff. I think it’s just exciting to hear all the people sing all the old songs. It sounds like hymns in the audience, its just unbelievable to hear that.

Parlé: What is the most important thing that you want fans to get out of this album?

R. Kelly: The most important thing I want fans to get from this Untitled album is that not only is R. Kelly back, but I never went anywhere. I haven’t skipped a beat and I’m still fresh. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Parlé: Looking back at your career do you have any regrets?

R. Kelly: Even though I had some downfalls in my music or my life, I felt like it has all built me to be who I am today. I’m still standing here, very strong, very confident and feeling very good about this album and very good about life. I believe your struggle brings you to that and it builds character. Not only in music, but throughout my career and my life, I have no regrets whatsoever simply because whatever I go through and whatever I’ve been through has made me the man I am today.

Parlé: What’s your favorite album? song?

R. Kelly: I would have to say Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life is my favorite album. I would have to say my favorite song in the whole wide world is…”I Believe I Can Fly.”

Parlé: So far what has been the highlight of your career?

R. Kelly: The highlight of my career so far is working with Michael Jackson. I had the opportunity to work with the greatest man that ever did music.

Parlé: When creating new music do you ever think back to old songs and try to out do a record?

R. Kelly: I do that all the time, I’m always challenging myself. I go back in the past and listen to hot songs, recreate and just beat it. I’m very competitive with myself. I’m always in the studio trying to beat the last thing that I did.

Parlé: You’ve done a lot of collaborations in the past, anyone you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t gotten a chance to link up with yet?

R. Kelly: I would love to collaborate with Stevie Wonder. I know Stevie but I’ve never had the opportunity to work with him. I have a whole vault of songs in the studio that I’ve written just for Stevie Wonder and I’m hoping one day to have the opportunity to work with him.

Parlé: Why hasn’t it happened?

R. Kelly: I have no idea but it should’ve happened by now. I’m being patient. Every now and then I’m gonna call Stevie and reach out to his people and say, “hey, I got a song, want to hear it? Here it go.”

Parlé: Why do you make the type of music you do?

R. Kelly: It’s hard for me to answer that question because the type of music I feel I make or I can make is any type of music. I feel like the earth is my turf when it comes to making music. Although I started off with R & B and it has made me successful and famous, songs like “I Believe I Can Fly,” and “You Are Not Alone,” for Michael Jackson, “I Look To You,” for Whitney Houston are more mainstream songs; I feel like I can do anything when it comes to music. The reason I do R & B and I’m known for R & B is because that's the way I started. That was my wagon, I rode it out to the fullest and I’m known for that. People expect that more than anything else. I try to give the people what they expect from me, but I feel when it comes to music…R. Kelly is music.

Parlé: Years to come how do you want to be remembered?

R. Kelly: In years to come I want to be remembered for my music and the way my music has touched so many people around the world. I want to be remembered as a songwriter, a singer, a performer, a producer, a father, loyal to my fans, and being one of the greatest that has ever done what I do.

Parlé: How has your definition of love changed since you first started your career compared to now?

R. Kelly: My definition of love has changed for the better. I say that because in the beginning I only knew I loved my music and I loved what was inside of me but now I got so much more to love like my kids, my fans, my friends and family, people who supported and prayed for R. Kelly around the world. It has greatly enhanced my love and my reason for loving and my reasons for why I do what I do.

Parlé: How do you define love?

R. Kelly: Music. Harmony. It’s one thing to have a solo singer, its another to have a duet, but nothing touches my heart more or excites my ears more than when I hear thousands of people singing and humming in harmony. That’s how I define love.

Parlé: What do you think is the secret to a happy and healthy loving relationship?

R. Kelly: I think that people don’t talk to each other. Couples don’t talk to each other like they should. They don’t get an understanding. They fall in love and they aren’t friends. I think that in order to make a relationship work and have longevity in a relationship is to fall in friends first. Be that person’s homie. Be that person’s running buddy. If you can do that, if you create that, then the relationship has a lot better chance at growing and blossoming into something that can be forever. I believe if you conquer the friendship with your soul mate, together you can conquer anything.

Parlé: How do you prevent a spouse from cheating?

R. Kelly: I think when you are in a relationship you can’t prevent the other from cheating. When you’re in love you will make mistakes sometimes but through prayer you can help prevent temptations that will come. I think when it comes to cheating only God can prevent that. I think if they don’t pray about it, they’re more likely open for those mistakes to happen.

Parlé: What advice would you give to a man trying to woo a woman? What advice would you give to a woman trying to woo a man?

R. Kelly: Any man (and this goes for man and woman) trying to woo (woo means to impress a woman) a woman is not being a man at all because it’s a sign of insecurity. You shouldn’t have to impress a woman. She’s either going to be impressed by your character, the way you look, the way you carry yourself, the way you make her smile, make her laugh, by your genuine spirit, or she’s not. Although some women are impressed by a hot car or a man with some money or whatever, it’s not true, it’s not organic. The best way for a woman to be impressed by a man (if a man is looking for a real woman) is to impress her by coming as he is, being honest and true and saying what it is he feels. She’s either going to like it or she’s not. And vice-versa.

Parlé: Your music is used by people everywhere to set the mood, but what do you listen to in order to get the mood right?

R. Kelly: I listen to the 12 Play album.

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