Who is R. Kelly? Three-time Grammy winner, who has sold more than 35 million records worldwide. Legendary writer and producer, who collaborated with such music icons as Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Jay-Z, and Aretha Franklin. Visionary cultural messenger, who created the hip hopera phenomenon Trapped in the Closet.Creative genius. Sex symbol. The man who puts the 'R' in R&B. Through the iconic anthem 'I Believe I Can Fly' and such sexy R&B mega-hits as 'Bump N' Grind,' 'Ignition,' and 'When a Woman's Fed Up,' R. Kelly has proven to be one of the greatest musical talents of his generation. Yet his rollercoaster ride to the top has been as perilous as it has been exhilarating. In Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me,Kelly shares his life story through episodic tales and exclusive color photographs, exploring his meteoric rises and sudden falls. From the crippling learning disorder that rendered him unable to read or write, to the teacher/mentor who prophesized that his destiny was in music, not basketball, we follow his evolution from Chicago street performer to struggling L.A.
Although he's best known in mainstream culture for his baffling long-form music video operetta "Trapped in the Closet" and for sordid accusations that threatened jail time, Robert Sylvester Kelly's place as a titan of soul music, one who imported a previously rare hip-hop swagger to R&B, is secure. Written with Ritz, a preferred collaborator for soul artists like Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, Kelly's memoir tells of a poverty-stricken childhood in Chicago, encompassing his shame over an inability to learn to read, which apparently persists in adulthood owing to dyslexia. But a talent for basketball and music, encouraged by his mother and a teacher (each receiving numerous encomia herein), pointed a way out: as a teenage street singer, he entertained pedestrians with extemporaneous songs extolling McDonald's. By the 1990s and beyond, he became the most enduring exponent of the "new jack swing" movement in soul music, not only through formal innovations like investing R&B with conversational cadence but also by writing modern-day standards like "I Believe I Can Fly." Verdict Although this book is an essential title for Kelly's fans, cowriter Ritz was unable to coax much insight or reflection regarding the creative process or turbulent life from an artist who evidently speaks candidly only in song.-Rob Kemp, Brooklyn (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Hay House, Incorporated
June 27, 2012
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