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R. Kelly @ Oracle Arena - By jschiewe - January 12, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

R. Kelly @ Oracle Arena

(RCA Records)

When discussing R&B singer R. Kelly, it’s hard to decide what to talk about. Do you bring up the sex-tape scandal that showed the artist peeing on an underage girl? His purported illegal marriage to Aaliyah when she was only 15? His bizarre and hilarious multi-chapter hip-hopera, Trapped in the Closet? His obsession with lewd and raunchy themes that culminated most famously in his 2013 album, Black Panties? Or do you simply talk about his music and the many hits, like “Ignition (Remix)” and “Bump N’ Grind,” that he has produced? Well, it turns out that if you’re a journalist looking to interview R. Kelly, you can only discuss a few of these topics. In order to speak with the infamous singer — which unfortunately didn’t end up happening — I had to sign a contract promising not to ask any personal questions and agreeing to submit my queries to his team before the interview. Given what a divisive character he is, this was not that surprising, but in the world of music journalism, having to sign a contract in order to interview an artist is very unusual. (The only other time I’ve had to abide by a set of rules was when I interviewed harpist Joanna Newsom and was asked not to question her about her personal or marital life.) All of this is to say that R. Kelly is trying to put the kibosh on the juicy stuff, but the good news is that he decided to do so one interview too late. In January 2016, journalist Chris Heath managed to get the artist to open up about a number of now-taboo talking points, and he captured it all in the GQ profile “The Confessions of R. Kelly.”

R. Kelly at 8 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15, at Oracle Arena. $68.25-$110.25; coliseum.com