Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Kellz Kanye Remix
Kellz drops the vocal, Kanye a new verse for Flashing Lights...
I prefer the original but I like it when a remix actually does what it says, rather than just some random verse from any-MC (unless that rhymer happens to be Lil Wayne cos I'm biased like that).
Also, just cos, here's the R Kelly transcript from the interview I did with him in Chi-Town last year. It took a few months and a failed trip to Las Vegas to get him, but eventually I got to the Kellz. Not in that way. I'm too young, for one. Oh, and I wanted to start the Guardian piece with 'I'm at R Kelly's house. It's pissing down (pause).' But it didn't happen. You know lawyers...
I've also left some of the questions abbreviated in note form, cos I got shit to do tonight! But you'll get the gist... I also got more quotes at a playback the next day, but I can't be arsed right now to write them up. Like I say, sheeet to do!
Here's our 14 minutes in full... I was also banned from asking any questions relating to legal matters, Jay, Sparkle, his wife and, uh, a bunch of other stuff I forget. I also had to sign an agreement not to do ten types of other things either, yawn, yawn.
How are you?
I’m great man.
Tell me about the title and concept of the album?
Well it’s called Double Up and that can mean a million things; I’m a basketball player, I’m an athlete, I love to play basketball. I was in Vegas when I came up with this and there was a lot of gambling of course going on in Vegas. So I played around with the gambling meaning and then with playing basketball, doubling up on my shot, on my D and then at the same time I wanted to double up on my career. With my career, it’s been 16 years and I’m still on top of trying to be on tip of my game today. It’s time for me to double up and do it all over again. Sometime my coach used to tell me, when you’re up 20, you need to play like you’re down 20 so I could relax and say ‘Ok, I had a great run,’ but I somehow don’t feel like that/ I feel more hungrier than I’ve ever been so I feel it’s time for me to double up and do it all over again’ lets do another 16 years. That’s how I feel about it.
Pressure to live up to past success?
I always feel pressure going into the studio to start on an album but it’s a good pressure, it’s the kind of pressure that makes me come up with what I come up with. I look at everything I go through, everything I’ve come through, the things I’ve overcome in my life and the challenges that meet me at the gate in my life and I except the challenges because I’m very competitive when it comes to my work. I want to be the best and if not the best, then great at it. So what I do is, I work to the point where (long pause) the pressure’s there but it pushes me into a corner and I come out writing. The writing part is the scratching, sometimes I feel ?? but musically I feel I can bring myself through.
You're pretty prolific at the moment, with remixes, guest spots…
It’s been pretty busy but being in the studio is like my vacation and I’ve been on a long vacation. But that’s pretty much what it is for me; I go in and it’s like coming in from work. I’m at home now. It really is, that’s how it is for me. When I go into doing an album, it feels good to me. Whether I hear something that day, or not.
What do we learn about Kells on this album?
Well the fans are going to find out that R Kelly’s still keeping it real, It doesn’t look like he’s going no where soon and they’re gonna learn that I get better with time. They’ll learn I’m an overcomer. They’ll learn I love them, they’ll know that. They’ll learn that I know them, I know people, I understand what their needs are.
I need to talk about the track The Zoo? You're actually pretty funny, but do you think people get your humour?
Well first of all I appreciate you for recognising the humour in the music that I sometimes have because I feel like sometimes people take what I write about a little too seriously. I really wanting them to be seeing the humour; I’m really being silly and yet I’m bein serious. I’m trying to get the song written in a way that you can understand. Even though ‘m talking metaphorically, I want people to get it. I want them to laugh at some of the things I say because it’s almost like I’m a musical comedian on some of those songs. Now I don’t know what a sexasaurous is, but if you can imagine that, and you want to take it there then I’ll be you sexasaurous, like Jurassic Park – except rather than a dinasaurus I’ll be your sexasaurous, know what I’m saying. Anybody that gets that, I can really appreciate that because it makes it fun, it makes it a journey and not just a song. I believe that’s why people listen to and love R Kelly’s work because there are a lot of goodies in the lyrics. It’s not just I love you and you love me, it’s metaphors. You can tell I took time to really think about what I’m saying and really satisfy the listener.
The language on Real Talk is a lot? I take it you don't have a problem with the 'N' and bitch words?
What makes me comfortable about using those words is that 1) I’m a grown man and I realise in this world that are exchanged even when we’re not writing. There are words that are said to each other when there’s not a movie playing. I look at myself just like Steven Speilberg or any other director that makes movies. I’m a director in my own way with my music and Real Talk is more like a move, like TITC. When you go to see a movie, you don’t question whether someone called someone else a bitch, ho, nigga or any of that, you’re watching the story. If the story is good and the story is real to you, you’re going to say that was a good movie when you walk out. Well, R Kelly is no different. When I write, I don’t write these songs everyday. Every song is different from the last, like every movie is different from the last. If you can respect that then I think people should try and respect what I do because I can’t limit myself. If I don’t hen I retire. If I hear Real Talk; I didn’t just go into the studio and say ‘I know, today I’ll write a curse song; bitch, slut, bitch, nigga, ho’. I don’t do that. I go in with a creative mind and spirit and I let creativity come to me, I don’t chase it. Tomorrow I might…interestingly enough I heard Rise Up and that’s just what I heard. I was inspired by the situation that happened because it’s a reality and that reality is actually much worse than Real Talk, which is an argument between a man and woman. We have got to realise that this is a real world, there are no aliens down here. We’re all human. Real Talk has no colour; everybody or most people have had that argument I feel. They didn’t try to mute their words while they was arguing, they didn’t put they hand over they mouth at the time they wanted to curse. These things have gone on in cars, on phones, in drive-throughs and even in movie theatres. I’ve experienced it, I know a lot of people that have experienced it, even the ones that don’t approve of it have experienced it in one way or another. If you’re going to look at this as me criticising the woman, or looking down on the woman when you have all these movies out – those people are no better than me and I’m no better than them. If they can say it in the movie theatres, and on the talk shows, why should I stop? I’m only expressing myself and my freedom of speech in my own, creative way. Why is it such a no-no? I’m no different from the movies you see, I express life. If you go see a movie and the acting’s not good and the writing isn’t realistic, then it’s probably going to end up going straight to DVD. If I can go the movie and see someone getting shot in the head that look s as real as all outdoors, and you’ve got even got blood splashing on the camera just to put that realness on it, I ain’t complaining, I say that’s a great movie. Although I like all types of movies, not just action movies. When you look at that and we want to criticise or look down on Real Talk or anything like that and I’m pretty sure it will happen cos I’ve thought about that, then you have to look at that.
Don't you think that hip hop seems to get unjustifiably and unbalanced amounts of blame?
Absolutely I agree with that. That’s real talk, that’s the way it is. We get downed for the B word, the H word, the S word and even the D word.
The 'D' word?
Damn. I’ve heard songs where radio would bleep that word. I’ve got a lot of flack from that and I think it’s totally unfair because way before I was R Kelly I would go to the movies and there was a lot of blood in the Bruce Lee movies and in a whole lot of movies. But if you’re able to understand that this is a movie and entertainment than you should accept it. Especially when you are that and you’ve experienced that in your won way sometimes. If you can relate to the movie you should be able to relate to the music.
So, in real life, are you a flirt like you say in the song? Do you have chat-up skills?
I might say, 'What yo name is? Things like that. Nah, I’m playing. My thing with flirting is pretty much you don’t have to say nothing. You can make a gesture to someone and they might make the same gesture back to you. If I was a flirt, I’d be that kind of flirt, I’d give her that look to let her know she is very cute and that I like her. I wouldn’t step to her though. I wouldn’t do that, but that’s me. Some guys would do that, that’s their way, Nowadays, some girls do that too. You know when someone’s flirting with you. So that’s how I would do it, if I would do it.
TITC 13-30? When is it out? What happens? Can things get crazier than machete-weilding midgets hiding in cupboards?
I definitely couldn’t tell you what’s going to happen, that would spoil all the anticipation and my hard work. The exciting thing about TITC is that you never know what’s going to happen, you just know something is going to happen. A lot of people ask me what I might possibly come up with next, but if you look around you, there’s a lot going on on the earth; that’s why there’s always going to be another movie, another song. TITC is no different, as long as there’s something going on, I’m confident I’m able to write about it.
Will it be the same instrumental?
I had a long talk with myself and the musicians around me and I pretty much decided that the music is the air that the characters breathe and so the air doesn’t change. It is what it is. I think once the music start, you pretty much aren’t listening to the music, you’re just listening to what’s going to happen next. I believe as long as I satisfy you guys and keep your curiosity satisfied by giving you the cliffhanger, I think TITC will last pretty much forever.
You've worked with lots of rappers over the years – what has their support over the years meant to you with all the dramas?
It feels good to know I’m accepted in that area because I ‘m a part of that area. I look at the way I bring hip hop into my music and they way I bring it into my type of R&B musically and lyrically. I grew up where 50 Cent grew up at and I grew up where Jay-Z and Nelly and all of the hot rappers grew up at; in the hood. What do they talk about? Their cars and what they used to be and what they is now. It used to be these type of chicks and now it’s these type of chicks.’ I’ve experienced people begin shot, I’ve been shot so I’ve experienced the whole drug game. Everything they talk about, I can relate to. That’s why I buy their stuff and bob my head in a club listening to them. They whole slang and swagger is my same life, the way I grew up. When I do my music, you feel all that. I don’t dress up the dirt part, I pretty much have lived a lot of things they’ve lived. Maybe not as deep, but some of them deeper than, and they can fell my testimony because rappers are really preaching from a street point. They’re telling the whole d what they went through and experienced and what they went through today. And I pretty much do the same thing; I write songs and I write life and rappers write real life experience. Like when you see a really great movie, you can feel how the actors and actresses really portray what they’re going through. I forgot that one movie where the one lady was playing a ho and she had a dyke girlfriend with her – it was a really good movie. The lady is a really big actress but you would swear it’s not her because she was so into this character. Halle Berry same thing – a lot of people play crackheads. I hate to get back onto Real Talk, but I’m 40 now and I’m pretty smart but I can’t understand why it’s ok to do that but it’s not ok for me to express myself and be creative. I’ve seen the videogames and I’ve seem how the kids got guns and you don’t win unless you rob somebody. Our way in America and having a safer land to live in and protect our kids and the whole nine, I think the tactics for that is all screwed up. I think if I can’t use the word shit, nobody should be able to use the word shit because I’m 40 and I’m a grown man. If I can’t use the word bitch, when I know a lot of girls who I relate to in that slang way and they’re okay with it, my people call each other 'n****s all day long and we’re okay with it, I feel if that can’t be used in a song then it can’t be used in a movie cos the way I grew up that’s called unfair. And my mom taught me that so if you’re trying to teach me different at 40, you’re disrespecting everything my mom has taught me form a kid on up and I’m not gonna allow you to disrespect my momma with all the hard work she put in on raising me. So my thing is, if it’s going to be stopped musically in a rap, it should be stopped in the movies, the videogames and everywhere else. It should be a bill, nobody can do it. What kind of controversy and anger and problems would we have if they shut down rappers and singers from expressing theyself and yet you can go to the movies?
Fortunately I haven’t had that problem with singing my songs but I’ve been in situations where fight have broken out but not because of the music, but because that’s just what happens. All the way leading to wars. I think video games are one of the biggest mistakes America has made, being honest, but who am I to judge? But if I’m going to be judged, then it’s only right that I should judge back. Let me rephrase that about the videogames. I think the games where they’re robbing the stores and robbing the old ladies are a mistake. I think that’s a big mistake when it comes to the kids.
Um, wow. We're now totally out of time. So, greatest achievement?
What am I most proud of? I can’t say song-wise, I’d definitely have to say the greatest achievement is my longevity and still being here and still being on top of my game. I look around and I haven’t seen that done. It’s like Evil Kenevil jumping 50 trucks when everyone else just jumped 10. That hasn’t been done for along time so I would say being in the business has long as I have is my greatest achievement. You know, R&B needs a facelife and me, Usher and T Pain are the ones to give it that. Because we won’t cheat the people, we need the soul to stay in R&B in the music.