Back in October 2016, R. Kelly cancelled his Buffet Tour stop at Oracle Arena literally three hours before the show. It was a major bummer to all who were planning on going, but fortunately, all we had to do was wait three months for him to come back and finally perform on Sunday, Jan. 15.
While there was no king-size inflatable bed on stage, it was a memorable night nonetheless. Fans seeing the R&B singer for the first time learned that he loves to repeat lines, use the words “mother fucker,” and yell out random, sexually explicit statements, like “Is there anyone over here that would like to go all the way with me tonight?”
Given how infamous R. Kelly is for being raunchy and lewd, I would have expected more steamy events throughout the night, but it wasn’t a total bore. At one point, R. Kelly fell down a pair of stairs and got lost in a throng of women so eager to touch him that he lost his shoe. He wasn’t very happy about it, but he made sure the show went on like a true professional.
Because there were so many memorable moments from the night, we compiled a list of the 12 that stuck in our heads the most. If you missed the show, but still want to know what happened, check out our recap below.
1. After an opening set from the girl band June’s Diary — who, fun fact, was formed through Kelly Rowland’s BET show, Chasing Destiny — a loud, clamorous jolt of thunder alerted the crowd to the fact that R. Kelly would soon be emerging on stage. The curtains parted to reveal at least three dozen people and a smattering of couches and coffee tables onstage, with everyone holding drinks and dancing as Fat Joe’s “I Make It Rain” poured through the speakers. R. Kelly emerged wearing a navy blue puffy jacket with a black fur collar and he immediately yelled to the DJ to “Stop the mother fucking music!” He greeted the crowd and then the song continued where it left off, perfectly timed with R. Kelly’s line: “You gonna ask me what my name is? / Stupid bitch, I’m famous!”
(Side note: Does anyone else think it’s interesting that R. Kelly — who was once involved in a sex scandal that involved claims of him peeing on an underage girl — chose as his opening song a track that’s about “making it rain on them hoes?” I wonder what kind of rain he was talking about….)
2. While singing the collaborative Rich Gang track, “We Been On,” R. Kelly pulled out a stack of bills and made it rain on the crowd while he sang the bridge: “Okay, you know that we be in the club all night, throwin’ up this money / Got my niggas to my right, throwin’ up this money / Yeah these bitches know what I like, all about my money / Gotta get this money.” From across the room, the bills looked real, but I’ve been to enough hip-hop shows to know that the bills are rarely, if ever, real.
3. R. Kelly started his set shortly before 9:30 p.m. While wrapping up “Hotel” by Cassidy, he announced that he’s “got two and half hours on this stage.” Despite this claim, he ended the show at 11 p.m., after only one and a half hours of performing.
4. Following a rendition of “That’s That Shit,” R. Kelly paused to tell the crowd a secret. “What if I told ya’ll that I was drunk as a mother fucker right now?”
5. Midway through the show, after singing the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Fuck You Tonight,” a simple piano tune peeled through the arena as R. Kelly launched into his longest monologue of the night. “I’mma say whatever the fuck I want to tonight,” he declared over the soft piano melody. “I’m gonna do whatever the fuck I want to do tonight. If ya’ll got a problem with that, then leave right now, because it’s about to get freakier than a mother fucker on this stage.” The entire room lapsed into silence as R. Kelly finished his speech. “Tonight,” he said, “tonight, for me, is big girl night.” He then started singing one of his more bizarre songs, “The Zoo,” spouting lines such as “Girl, I got you so wet / It’s like a rain forest / Like Jurassic park / Except I’m your sex-a-saurus baby / You and me hopping / Like two kangaroos.” He then started making monkey noises — “Oooh oooh oooh! Aaah aaah aaah!” — which was definitely a surprise, as I’ve never seen an artist onstage make animal noises before, but it turns out that these groans and moans are all part of the song. And the fans didn’t seem to mind at all, either. The girl behind me, an uber R. Kelly fan, screamed, “I see you! I see you, baby! I love you! You a freak!”
6. After singing “Number 1,” R. Kelly announced that he was “sweatier than a mother fucker.” He peeled off his puffy jacket and pulled out a towel. “Is there anybody that can take this towel?” he asked, walking down the stage’s catwalk and looking down into the audience. After a good 30 seconds of scanning faces, he chose one girl to give the towel to, warning her that “you can’t be all messy and shit.” He crouched down in front her and instructed her in a sing-song voice on what to do. “Now wipe my beard,” he sang. “Now wipe my lips. Now wipe my tongue. Keep wiping it, baby. Now grab it!” It wasn’t clear what exactly he was telling her to grab, but I know I’m not the only one who was confused. At a December 2016 show, he instructed the girl who was wiping his face to “grab it,” and well, she actually grabbed “it.” At Oracle, it wasn’t apparent what that girl grabbed, but whatever she touched, it spurred R. Kelly to yell, “Oh, hell no! You’re trying to pull that shit off! What the fuck is wrong with you?” He then chuckled and edged away from the crowd, muttering into his microphone, “Damn, I wasn’t ready for that.” And then, I kid you not, he started making beeping noises, only pausing to utter two words — “White girl” — between beeps. It was weird, but definitely entertaining.
7. In case we forgot that R. Kelly was drunk, he reminded us midway through that he was intoxicated, adding “but it is what it is.” He then instructed the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to him, as he had turned 50 on Sunday, January 8. He then launched into “Ignition (Remix),” and when the line “running her hands through my ‘fro” came up, he pantomimed running his fingers through his hair, despite the fact that he is now entirely bald. Poor, R. Kelly.
8. After wrapping up “Freaky In The Club,” R. Kelly took a moment to get conversational with the crowd. “How many of you guys have made babies to my music?” he asked, waiting for fans to scream in response. “How many of you guys have made love to my music?” he then asked. “How many of you guys have fucked to my music?” he continued. “And I mean when you don’t even know them that well.” This last comment elicited the loudest cheer yet from the audience, which certainly tells you something about the kind of crowd that goes to R. Kelly shows.
9. As a tinkling piano melody played in the background, heralding the beginning of the track “12 Play,” R. Kelly shared with the crowd that he “got three kids from this mother fucking song.”
10. While R. Kelly performed his 1995 hit, “Down Low (Nobody Has to Know),” the most embarrassing moment of the night happened. The 50-year-old decided to descend the side stairs into the crowd to give out hugs and was mobbed by a throng of women. He disappeared from view for about 30 seconds and didn’t utter a word as the rest of us were left wondering what the hell was going on. It’s still not clear exactly what he was doing down there for all that time, but eventually he spoke up, yelling into his microphone for stage hands to come “help [him] up.” He appeared agitated once he was pulled back onstage –“Shit. I won’t do that shit no more!” — and yelled to the women, “Hey! Give me my mother fucking shoe!” Though his shoe was returned, he opted not to put it back on, saying, “Alright, let’s go. Fuck it! One shoe!” while he walked down the catwalk and plunged straight into the next song, “It Seems Like You’re Ready.”
11. After the falling fiasco, R. Kelly scurried off the stage only to re-emerge minutes later at the other end of the arena on a floating stage. Accompanied by a solo guitar, he sang a number of retro, 1950’s prom tunes — like Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” — that he declared were dedicated to his mother. Though R. Kelly is the King of Raunch, his velvety smooth voice pairs well with vintage soul and pop tunes, and it was a nice departure from the kinds of stuff he normally sings.
12. He ended the night with “Step In The Name of Love,” while a glittery disco ball descended from the ceiling and sprinkled reflections over the crowd. Everyone was so pumped up by this point that even the girl in front of me with the crutches and foot cast, who had been sitting the entire show, decided to stand up and dance.