Love him or hate him, R. Kelly has a story to tell and he does just that in Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me. R. Kelly begins his ‘diary’ by sharing memories from his childhood. Many of us in the public hear his name and think of sexually graphic lyrics and that can be traced back to when he was eight years old. Without going into detail (as given in the book), R. Kelly sees and then experiences his first sexual encounters at this age. These encounters would help mold his mindset about sex.
Robert, as he prefers to be called, goes into great detail about not being able to read and write like the other kids growing up in Chicago. He was too ashamed to tell anyone about his shortcomings and often his talent on the basketball court persuaded teachers to simply pass him through. Kelly is quoted as saying, “Trying to learn how to read and spell in school for me was like throwing a brick on top of the Sears Tower.”
Fast forwarding to adult life, Kelly tells how the group R. Kelly & Public Announcement got started and how it was his plan all along to leave the group after one album to become a solo artist. He shares some insider stories about the work he did with Celine Dion, Michael Jordan, Janet Jackson and a host of other big name artists. But, the one collaboration that stuck out to me was his reaction to meeting Janet’s brother, Michael. This part of the book seemed so real and believable because R. Kelly was so star struck and it is my belief that he behaved in the same manner that most would when meeting Michael Jackson.
The downside of this book to me, and it could be because of legal reasons, but it took until page 280 to bring up the alleged sex tape with a teenager and subsequent charges against him. I am sure that he and Ritz knew that the public wanted to hear more of his point of view specifically on the charges besides this quote, “I knew the charges were bullshit; I knew I was innocent, but none of that mattered.” In my opinion, another disappointing omission from Soulacoaster was Aaliyah. There is no mention of her at all in this book.
R. Kelly is truly a polarizing figure. Many people are not able to separate the man’s profession and his lyrics from the actual man. People either embrace R. Kelly completely or they loathe the air he breathes. I believe he sums it up perfectly by saying, “I call my gift a beautiful disease.”