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R. Kelly 101: Everything you need to know about the singer before Trapped in the Closet returns

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As we get ready for the much-anticipated return of R. Kelly’s hip-hopera Trapped in the Closet, on November 23 at 9/8c, we’re taking a look back on the life and career of the show’s star and creator, R.Kelly.

Robert Sylvester Kelly was born on Jan. 8th, 1967, which makes him a Capricorn, ladies. Legend has it that his first foray into singing was at a talent show where he busted out with the Stevie Wonder classic “Ribbon in the Sky.” After proving his talent, the young Kellz was happy to share the spotlight, so he formed a band called Public Announcement. In January 1992, a few days after his 25th birthday, Public Announcement recorded their debut album, Born Into the ’90s, featuring swoon-worthy smooth R &B songs like “She’s Got that Vibe,” “Honey Love,” and, of course, “Slow Dance”:

As with most of the music that R. Kelly touches, the album was a major success, selling over a million copies. Kelly and Public Announcement eventually parted ways, but clearly that wasn’t the end of the road for our Kellz. Once he had a foothold in the music industry, he wasn’t going anywhere. Instead, he went solo, dropping his debut 12 Play” in 1993. The album’s single, “Bump N’ Grind”, was Kelly’s first chart topper, spending a record-breaking 12 weeks at number one. Thanks to his smash hit, Kelly found himself in high demand as a writer, producer, composer remixer and mentor. His protégé Aaliyah released her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, in 1994. The album was entirely written and produced by R. Kelly and sold over three million records. He also remixed songs for artists including Janet Jackson, Barry White and Toni Braxton.

In 1995, Kelly released his second album, R. Kelly. The album was Kelly’s first to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart, and it also reached number one on the R&B album charts. The album had three platinum singles: “You Remind Me of Something,” “I Can’t Sleep (Baby If I),” and “Down Low (Nobody Has To Know).” That same year, Kelly garnered his first-ever Grammy nod for his work writing, producing and composing Michael Jackson’s number one hit “You Are Not Alone.”

Then came “I Believe I Can Fly.” The song was originally released on the soundtrack for the film Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny film “Space Jam,” but soon became one of R. Kelly’s biggest hits. “I Believe I Can Fly” reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and R. Kelly won three Grammys including Best R&B Song, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture. Can you blame the Grammy voters for falling in love with the song?

After the runaway success of “I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly was asked to contribute songs to movies like “Batman & Robin” (“Gotham City”) and “Life” (“Fortunate”).

Fun Fact about R. Kelly: He’s not just a pretty face, wildly talented singer and acclaimed writer and producer, he’s also a baller. In 1997, he was signed to play basketball for the Atlantic City Seagulls of the now-defunct United States Basketball League. He wore the number 12 in honor of his debut album, 12 Play.

In 1998, Kelly released R., which was his fourth studio album and first double album. em>R. featured “I Believe I Can Fly” and included the hit “I’m Your Angel”, which was a duet with Celine Dion. It also featured duets with Nas (“Money Makes the World Go Round”), “Spendin’ Money” (produced by Sean “Puffy” Combs), a collaboration with Jay Z, Cam’ron, Noreaga (“We Ride”), a track with Foxy Brown (“Dollar Bill”), along with a few tracks with another one of his proteges, Sparkle.

While Kelly collaborated with a variety of producers and writers on R., for his next release, TP-2.com, Kelly took the reins again and went into the studio as a one man show, writing, arranging and producing the entire album by himself. The public and the critics loved it, sending the album straight up the Billboard charts to #1. The album’s hits included “I Wish,” “Feelin’ On Yo Booty,” and the remix to “Fiesta,” the track he did with Jay-Z:

The one-off collaboration between the kings of R & B and hip hop lead to The Best of Both Worlds, a joint album with Jay-Z. The album debuted at number two, despite the fact that the album leaked. The music industry sprung another leak in May 2002, when what was supposed to be Kelly’s sixth studio album, Loveland, also leaked. Not to be done be undone by a leak, Kelly re-recorded the entire album, changed the name and released Chocolate Factory in early 2003. The album became another mega-smash for the singer with singles “Ignition,” “Snake” and go-to karaoke favorite “Step in the Name of Love” all hitting big.

Then in October 2004, Kelly and Jay-Z decided to do a follow-up to their Best of Both Worlds. As expected, their new album, Unfinished Business, hit number one on the Billboard chart. Unfortunately when two mega-stars are touring together, egos and tempers started to flare. R. Kelly left the tour after getting pepper-sprayed by someone in Jay Z’s entourage and multimillion dollar lawsuits started flying. Amid all the legal drama, Kelly released his seventh album, TP.3 Reloaded, in 2005. That album gave the public their first peek at the wild and wonderful world of “Trapped in the Closet,” which included the first five chapters of the hip hopera. Videos for chapters one to five were released in sequence in May and June of 2005. Following a preview at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, seven more chapters were released on DVD. Two years later, R. Kelly released ten more chapters of the increasingly complex story starring Rufus, Sylvester, Twan, Big Man, and Pimp Lucius and all 22 chapters were shown right here on IFC.

2007 brought Kelly’s album Double Up, with the the singles “I’m a Flirt (Remix)”, featuring T.I. and T-Pain and “Same Girl,” which was a duet with Usher. While “I’m A Flirt (Remix)” hit number one, there’s something about “Same Girl” that is irresistible:

Kelly released his first ever mixtape, The Demo Tape (Gangsta Grillz) in 2009, followed by the release of a full length album called Untitled, which featured the single “Number One” that ironically peaked at #8. That same year, Kellz teamed up with biographer David Ritz a to write his memoir, which he fittingly titled “Soula Coaster.” Here’s Gary Oldman reading some of Kelly’s bio:

In 2010, Kelly announced that he was working on not one, but three new albums: Epic, a collection of his most “epic” ballads; Love Letter, which earned him yet another Grammy nod, and Zodiac, which was derailed by emergency throat surgery that waylaid the singer for awhile. While some critics were worried that Kelly wouldn’t be able to recover his smooth croon. Instead he came back bigger and better with a single fittingly titled “Shut Up.” As Spin magazine put it, “Kelly taking aim at the haters who said ‘he’s washed up, he’s lost it.’ He hasn’t. Dude’s voice is in prime smooth R&B form.”

In June 2012, Kelly released his eleventh studio album, Write Me Back proving that he is both wildly prolific and incredibly talented. Of course Kelly knew that all along. He told Vibe back in 2004, “My talent has overwhelmed me — it automatically beats the pen and pad to the punch. Lyrics come just like that, out of nowhere. God blessed me with a talent I don’t see anybody else with.” It’s hard to argue with that sentiment.

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Trapped in the Closet returns to IFC on Friday, November 23 at 9/8c.

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As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Get ready for this weekend’s R. Kelly “Trapped in the Closet” Sing-Along

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R. Kelly is taking over New York Comic Con and you’re invited. Get your badge and come to New York Comic Con on Saturday, October 13th at 8 PM in room 1A10.

As we await the return of R. Kelly’s hip hopera Trapped in the Closet to IFC we are coming up with new and interesting ways to fill the hours until Sylvester, Rufus, Cathy, Gwendolyn, Bridget, Big Man, Rosie the Nosy Neighbor, Twan and Pimp Lucius are back. So this Saturday, October 13th, we are teaming up with RCA and The Action Pack for an epic “Trapped in the Closet” Sing-Along in New York City’s Javits Center. The “Trapped in the Closet” Sing Along will be a fully interactive cinematic experience complete with on-screen lyrics, props and last, but not least, an R. Kelly dance party in between a showing of “Trapped in the Closet” chapters 1-22.

The Sing-Along at New York Comic Con will be emceed by Action Pack founder Henri Mazza who will introduce the music videos, instruct attendees on the proper use of spatulas, toy Berettas, and other props throughout the screening and sing-along, and demand that audience members stand up to “Step in the Name of Love.”

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The event is open to all New York Comic Con badge holders.

Want the latest news from IFC? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @ifctv.

R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet returns to IFC in November 2012

Mark your calendar for the “Trapped in the Closet” Sing-Along at New York Comic Con

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We’ll admit it: “I Believe I Can Fly” is our shower song. It’s got a smooth beat and you can dance to it. And as we await the return of R. Kelly’s hip hopera Trapped in the Closet to IFC we find ourselves singing the full R. Kelly song catalog to help wile away the hours until Sylvester, Rufus, Cathy, Gwendolyn, Bridget, Big Man, Rosie the Nosy Neighbor, Twan and Pimp Lucius are back.

But we don’t want to have all the fun ourselves. No, we like to share! So this year at New York Comic Con we are combining our two great loves — Comic-Con and R. Kelly — into the world’s greatest event: A Trapped in the Closet sing-along. Can we get an oh shit?

Want to raise your voice in song and contribute to this monumental event? Get your badge and come to New York Comic Con on Saturday, October 13th at 8 PM in room 1A10. Bring your smooth tunes and white suit and lets join forces and voices to give Trapped in the Closet the Rocky Horror treatment courtesy of The Action Pack with lyrics on screen, props, and a dance party with all of R. Kelly’s best music videos.

Start practicing now and get Trapped all over again and ready for new chapters only on IFC this November!

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Trapped in the Closet returns to IFC this November

Exclusive Premiere: Chaos Chaos “My Hands”

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Things don’t generally work out well for child stars. There’s Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Macauley Culkin, the poor cast of “Diff’rent Strokes” and these poor child stars who grew up to become * shudder * lawyers. (Chunk, we hardly knew ya.) Luckily, things look like they’re turning out just fine for former child rockers Smoosh.

Sisters Asy and Chloe Saavedra started making music together as Smoosh (with their little sister Maia) as kids. Before they could see a PG-13 movie on their own, they were opening for the likes of Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, Cat Power, Nada Surf, and other indie rock big whigs in front of huge crowds. At the time of their first album, She Like Electric, came out in 2004, Chloe was 10 and Asy was 12 years old. Now at the ages of 18 and 20, they’ve decided it’s time for a change. In the new tradition, they took to Kickstarter to fund their first album as Chaos Chaos. The forthcoming EP, S, features five songs of the sisters’ trademark synth pop sound with a slightly more mature electro-pop edge.

Check them out for yourself. Here’s the premiere of “My Hands” by Chaos Chaos:

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Exclusive premiere: Lost in the Trees “Villain (I’ll Stick Around)”

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Shortly after Lost in the Trees released their debut album in 2009, singer-songwriter Ari Picker, lost his mother to a suicide. I’m not sure exactly when or how he mustered the will, but he eventually set about writing the band’s stunningly gorgeous second record to honor her. A trained classical composer, Picker wrote and arranged, turning grief into tribute with a picture of his mother above his desk, and it became “A Church That Fits Our Needs.”

This great loss informs the whole record, and the singer’s sadness might be the most apparent on this hauntingly orchestral lament, “Villain (I’ll Stick Around),” but the subject is more complex. Picker described it as being “about listening to someone’s troubled past and seeing them through it, rather than being driven away by it. It is about understanding that most situations are not black and white; heroes make mistakes and villains have virtuous qualities.”

“The song was written on a fall day,” Picker said. “The sunlight was coming through the windows and bouncing off the mirrors, creating little golden ghosts all around the room.” He went on to note that not only the lyrical and orchestral arrangements of the song, but also the video’s color palette (directed by Creato Destructo along with the band), “were influenced by these apparitions.”

 

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“All the special effects in the video are ‘handmade,’ Picker told us. “The reflections were created by building a two-way mirror maze, the floating bodies suspended by precarious wagon contraptions.” And as is so often the case, it’s the simple things that not only works to the best effect, but are the most beautiful — a touch of violin, sunlight shining off a mirror, a son’s love for his mother.

“A Church That Fits Our Needs” is out now on ANTI-.

Tell us about your apparitions in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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