Black Music Innovators: R. Kelly

When R. Kelly left the group Public Announcement and went solo in 1993, he took R&B music to a level it had never been before-lyrics went from sexually suggestive to straight sexual, and songs came to life in his as-real-as-it-gets videos. R. Kelly quickly rose to stardom not only as an R&B singer, but also as a producer and songwriter. His hits include “Bump n’ Grind,” “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Down Low,” and the multi-award-winning singer was named one of the most successful artists in Billboard’s 50th Anniversary List. Scheduled to release his tenth album this year, R. Kelly has made it clear that the sky is the limit, and he has left an indelible mark on the music world as well as a few artists who have followed in his footsteps.

The Dream

It seems like The Dream has a golden touch when it comes to producing hit records. Originally starting out writing lyrics for popular artists, The Dream later added producer and singer to his list of occupations. His claim to fame was Rihanna’s hit song “Umbrella,” which he cowrote and coproduced. The Dream then inked a deal with Def Jam Records, and continued to write and produce for other artists and released two albums. His third and reportedly last album, Love King, will be released later this year. The Dream has stated that R. Kelly has had a major influence on his music, and he told MTV News that he sung “Sweat It Out” the way R. Kelly would sing it, and he even paid homage to the innovator in his song “Kelly’s 12 Play.” Both songs appeared on The Dream’s second album, Love vs. Money. Sounds like he believes in giving credit when it’s due.

Trey Songz

Trey Songz may have once dissed R. Kelly for using autotune, and told Vibe he doesn’t particularly care about being compared to R. Kelly, but he might want to pay a tad bit more respect to the R&B legend. Trey Songz loves to woo the ladies through his music-R. Kelly’s being done it for years. Many of Songz’ songs have debuted on the Billboard charts-Kelly’s have too. Songz likes to act out in his videos (see: I Invented Sex)-Kelly has taken it there and further. With the release of his third album last year, Songz career has catapulted in a major way, and we hope he has as much longevity as the Pied Piper as long as he can respect those who paved the way.


Releasing his debut album in 2002, Mario has matured over the past eight years, and his fans have watched every step of the way. He went from being a teen star (“Just a Friend”) to a ladies man (“Break Up”). Mario recently teamed up with R. Kelly for “Ms. Chocolate,” the first single off Lil Jon’s upcoming album, Crunk Rock, and he’s now working on his fifth album. Like Kelly, Mario has penned the lyrics for many of his hit songs. Mario’s may have been nominated but hasn’t won his first Grammy yet (Kelly’s snagged three). Maybe one could be in his near future.Follower OmarionR. Kelly rocked braids for years, and started his career as a member of a singing group. Omarion did too. And like Kelly, Omarion sings as well as writes and produces songs. Omarion did a collaboration album, Face/Off, with rapper Bow Wow in 2007. Five years earlier, Kelly and Jay Z teamed up for Best of Both Worlds. With three solo albums under his belt, a platinum selling ringtone for “Ice Box” and budding acting career (You Got Served), Omarion is definitely headed on a promising path for long-lasting success. In light of his recent musical-chairs game with record labels, Omarion has expressed how much he has evolved for his third album. Hopefully, it’s for the better.
—— By: Crystal Tate


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