R. Kelly brought a rap legend to tears. Rolling Stone has an excerpt of the Chicago crooner’s new book, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me where he details bringing the late Notorious B.I.G. to tears after playing the rapper what would become “I Believe I Can Fly.” The story is all detailed in the book’s chapter titled “Yo Pac! Yo Biggie!”
One time we were on tour together and we were staying at the same hotel in Detroit. It was late and the after-party was over. The hotel-lobby party was over. The hotel-room party was over. There were still people hanging out in the lobby. And I was back in the lobby where they had this piano. I had just recalled that childhood dream with the cartoon characters chasing me. I remember the melody from that dream and was trying to figure out the rest of the lyrics, working on what would become “I Believe I Can Believe Fly.” Biggie and his crew came in the lobby about four in the morning.
“What’s up, baby! Great show, baby! What you doing?”
He came over to the piano, and I started to play it for him: “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky . . .” but so far that’s all I had.
“I’m gonna tell you right now, B, that’s a smash. That’s a big hit right there. That’s a Grammy winner, Rob.”
When I was playing it for him, I was thinking – he’s a hardcore rapper; this is gonna be too soft for him – but when I got through and looked up, his face was wet with tears.
“My brother,” he said, “they gonna be playing that when you and I have moved on to the other side of time.”
The chapter also details creating “F-ck You Tonight” (which led to a gang of collabs with more rappers) with the Bad Boy artist and his respect for Tupac Shakur, who he planned to create an album with after a chance meeting outside the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco.
On many different singles, I was able to marry my music with rappers who understood the natural bond between us. Even though our approaches were different, we complemented each other. Put them together and you get the best of both worlds – a term that stayed in my mind when I decided to put together the master plan that got postponed after the death of Tupac.
Interestingly, Kelly never mentions Jay-Z, who he created a pair of collaborative album with (2002’s Best Of Both Worlds & 2004’s Unfinished Business), in the chapter. The two had an infamous falling out (that involved Kelly getting pepper sprayed at Madison Square Garden) while touring to promote the second album.
Read the rest of the excerpt over at Rolling Stone. R’uh’s book, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me is out July 28th via SmileyBooks. The singer’s new album, Write Me Back, is out now.
MORE ON HIP-HOP WIRED!
Photo: Nicky Jeezy