Few musicians can claim a fan-base as diverse as R. Kelly’s. Hardcore rap fans love him. Hipsters love him. Even ‘90s babies who are too young to have seen “Space Jam” have him on their party playlists. Kelly may be 48 years old now, but he hasn’t slowed down at all. When we call him at 10 a.m., he’s still up from the night before. “I’m still in the studio,” he tells us. “I didn’t go to sleep and wake up for this, so you caught me at a great time.”
Spreading the love
Kelly is headlining a show at Barclays Center this weekend, tied to promoting his 15th studio album, “Buffet” (out Nov. 20). “It’s called “Buffet: All You Can Hear” because it’s a little bit of everything I’ve done throughout my career,” he explains. “It’s a party album and it’s a sexy album. You can party and then after the party you can go to the after-party, if you know what I mean.”
While “Buffet” delivers on the party songs, it also has a serious side to it. “Planet” is a reaction to the violence and riots that took place in Baltimore this past spring. “With this album, I knew people would want a new party song, a new love-making song and other songs that would bring the world together, but in the midst of trying to do that, unfortunately we had all these tragedies happening all around the world,” Kelly says.
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“As artists, sometimes we get so frustrated and wish we could do something about it. What we can do is get in the studio and try to write a song that will hopefully plant a seed that will grow more love.”
Throwing it back
While he’s excited for fans to hear the new songs, he says his concerts feature plenty of his older hits. “I love old school R. Kelly,” he says. When he thinks about his music and legacy, he’s right where he always wanted to be.
“I never wanted to make songs that were here today, gone tomorrow,” he says. “I want my songs to [continue] to be played after I’m gone. That has always been my goal and that’s why I think I have so many different types of people at my concerts and listening to my music.”
If you go:
September 24, 8 p.m.
The Liacouras Center
1176 N. Broad St., 215-336-3600
New York City
September 25, 8 p.m.
620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence