I was not interested in music. I was really trying to be the next Michael Jordan, of course.
I look at my music like a soldier looks at his sword. Never put your sword down in the midst of a war.
I’m not that guy that say, man, this music’s dead. It ain’t nothing, it ain’t nothing like it used to be like. That’s when you’re old. That’s when you’re outdated.
I’m not in no lane. The Earth is my turf when it comes to this music.
Evan: He’s an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and former professional basketball player.
He’s recognized as one of the bestselling music artists in the United States, with over 40 million albums sold.
He’s been credited with helping redefine R&B and hip hop, earning the name, The King of R&B.
He’s R. Kelly, and here’s my take on his top 10 rules for success.
Rule number one is my personal favorite, and I’m curious to figure out which one you guys like the best, and as always, as he’s talking, if he says something that really sticks out and is meaningful to you, please write it down in the comments below and put quotes around it, so other people can be inspired as well. Enjoy!
Rule #1: Overcome Your Struggles
I believe that the depth of anybody’s struggle will determine the height of their success. And I believe that everything that I’ve gone through in my whole life, you know, people ask me, what would you change? I wouldn’t change a thing because everything that I’ve gone through has made me who I am today.
So I’m sitting here very strong and very confident, and it got a lot of love for a lot of, lot of people. Jesus struggled and went through things. Everybody went through their own thing, and people were slandering him, I mean, I feel like if Jesus can go what he went through, who am I? I’m nobody.
“The depth of anybody’s struggle will determine the height of their success. ” – R. Kelly
You know what I’m saying, just a guy from the hood, man, that just do this music, you know, but I’m just such a real person. I don’t consider myself a celebrity at all. I’m just so real and I love people that, man, I just float through this thing, and I let my music, I let God guide me where he got me to go, but God ain’t going to just guide you straight to success, not God.
He gon’ guide you through a lot of mess first. So then when you get the success you’ll know how to appreciate it and you’ll know how to stay with it, and know how to take care of it, and that’s called longevity.
Rule #2: Find Your Path
Interviewer: And I know about your school. And I know about a certain lady that I’d like you to tell us about who inspired you and encouraged you to do music. Can you tell us a bit about her?
Well that’s Lena McLin, like my second mother, and she’s a pastor, and everything, my music teacher in high school. In high school, my freshman year, I was starting on Kenwood’s basketball team, which is the name of my high school. But I happened to have a music class.
At that point in time I think I was about 16, 17, I was not interested in music, I was really trying to be the next Michael Jordan of course. She told me that I would sing, I would be the next Stevie Wonder, or superstar, Michael Jackson, or something like that.
And I laughed at her like she was crazy you know, I was, I couldn’t see it. Everything I am today she could see it, my mother could see it, and she would tell me that I was going to be where I’m at today, and even further. And it just happened.
She put me in a talent show, and I did the talent show, and the girls was screaming and everything, and I was like man, I don’t get this kind of love on the court, you know. And of course I’m going to chose that over basketball, and I did, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
” Everything I am today she could see it, my mother could see it, and she would tell me that I was going to be where I’m at today, and even further. And it just happened.” – R. Kelly
Interviewer: So would you say that was your big break, or was there a stage a little further down the line that was a significant break for your music?
I would say my big break is that point in time I learned that Stevie Wonder riff. That was one of the steps ’cause I felt like if I learned that I can learn anything, ’cause that guy was going pretty fast. But, as far as crowd wise and what nailed it, I would say my first talent show pretty much is what bit me in a way, like, Peter Parker got bit by the spider and became Spiderman, that was the bite for me. When the women and everybody was showing me so much love at the talent show and I won, and I was like wow, it was overwhelming.
Rule #3: Hustle
Four years I street performed here before I got my record deal. I was on the streets with a little bitty keyboard.
With glasses on like I was Stevie Wonder. You know. Hustling, you know. With a big chitlin bucket, I paid my rent and my mom’s rent off of street performing. But I would only do it three days out of the week. Just three days, but I would be uh I can’t talk no more, I can’t even talk, ’cause I was like singing for like eight hours straight, for people going to work and coming from work. Then I hitchhiked to LA but I lived on the beach. Cardboard box, and big beach towels I slept on.
Interviewer: In the beach?
On the beach, everyday. Then I’d wake back up. When I’d wake up I’d sing again. Then I came, I hitchhiked back to Chicago, and then I got discovered. But I did all that for like six years, street performing.
Rule #4: Be Observant of People
Interviewer: What is your secret?
Just being very observant, you know. I’m very observant of people and my mom always taught me don’t write songs, write life. You know, and only way you’re going to write life is that you’ll be very observant of people, and always paying attention to people and the needs of people and what they talking about these days, you know. And then kind of like challenging that into your gift, which is my music. And I believe that I long as I continue to be observant of people and do that, I’ll be alright.
Rule #5: Do What You Feel Is Right
Interviewer: The seven year turmoil that you went through, vis-a-vis the trial for child pornography, your advisors almost to a person, told you over and over and over again while you’re going through this period, Kells, do not put out sexually explicit material. Do not, the audience can’t handle that, your fans can’t handle it, it’s not gon’ be good for the outcome of this trial, tone it down, don’t put that out. You ignore all of ’em, do it anyway, and get bold with it. It’s during this period you put out Chocolate Factory, you put our Remix, you put out Ignition. Here they are telling you not to do this and you put out a song about putting your key in the ignition. I read that, and I wanted to ask, so I will, why it is that you went against your advisors, what is it that you were thinking, that you were feeling, that kept you doing that when everybody else told you not to do that.
Well first of all let me say, you know, I wasn’t bold about it, and I didn’t totally ignore ’em, because that would be the worst thing to do, is totally ignore your advisors or your lawyers. I listened to ’em, we talked, we discussed the situation, I felt strong, very strong, as I said many years ago about the trial, that I will have my day in court, and I will be innocent, and I will walk away, and I will move on with my life.
I said that in the beginning, I said that during the middle part of the trial and everything else. I look at my music like a soldier looks at his sword. Never put your sword down in the midst of a war. You never lay down in the midst of a war. And I think that my lawyers were good lawyers, great lawyers, but I didn’t think they had that part down. And you have to be the soldier in the midst of the war to even understand that. And I was the soldier on the front line, for my life, for my kid’s life, for my fans.
“I would not stop doing music.” – R. Kelly
And I told them I would not lay down. I would not stop doing music. Why would I do that? I think that would say, oh yeah, he did it. I think that would say all of the things that people want to say about R. Kelly. So I did what I’m supposed to do. Like any fireman that goes up in the building, they don’t get to the building say oh wait a minute, that’s just too much fire. But you’re a fireman, so go and fight the fire. Don’t care how much it is. I had to go and I had to do my music.
I’m not going to change my lyric, I’m not going to change my name, I’m not going to do any of that. I’m going to do my music, and that’s what I did, and that’s what I told the company, even though they continued to say no, don’t do it. But the minute ignition came out, which was the first song I did, it blew up, and all of sudden the company’s calling me, everybody’s calling me, come do an album cover shoot, we got to get the rest of this album done, we got to go there, we got to run, do what you do, what you got to do, bring your clothes, we gon’ have a, well I ain’t got no doggone makeup person. You got some makeup, bring your own makeup, we’ll do it all. I mean, it just got crazy. So I did what I felt was right.
Rule #6: Express Your True Self
I started saying things like
♫ I can hear someone over there calling me oh who
The crowd would just go crazy. And then I walk down there.
♫ I can hear someone over there calling me oh
And they’d go crazy, this before Body Calling was even, was born. Little gimmicks like that, and oh na, na, na, na, na. Crowd go, your body, na, na. And it was just amazing, little gimmicks that I was doing on my show. I never thought that I would take it into the studio and say okay Ima make a whole song out of your body calling, Your Body’s Calling Me. But that’s how these songs came about. The more I started doing that, the more I started deciding well I’m just going to start saying what I feel, ’cause I would always say on my stage
“You know it’s a difference when you mean it. You know, you do it.” – R. Kelly
♫ Do you mind if I say what I feel right now
They would love it. Then I’d say what I feel.
♫ Say I’m feeling kind of horny right now
And they would snap, you know. But that’s what I would feel. And I say what I feel, people appreciate me keeping it real with ’em. And everybody wants to know what you really feel, that’s when you’re known. They want to know what you’re really thinking. So I was giving them what was on my mind and on my heart at that particular time.
Interviewer: You reckon you found your niche there, really, at that point. I mean everybody, a lot of R&B artists, were trying to do that kind of thing, but you kind of did it just that bit better.
Well I think it’s because after I started doing it a lot of people would follow, if you don’t mind, I mean a lot of people would follow, in a humble way I say that. But you know it’s a difference when you mean it. You know, you do it. When I came up with it, it came out of me from my belly.
And I did it because that’s what I felt, and that’s what was on my mind. A lot of other people, when they did it, they were inspired to do it. And it’s a difference, you know, it’s a difference in who created the light bulb, and then who turned it on, it’s a big difference.
Rule #7: Stay Fresh
The music is still in me, and it’s more powerful now than it’s ever been, because I don’t know, it’s something Benjamin Button about me. I don’t know really what it is, it’s just the weirdest thing in the world. I love music and I keep my ears close to music, and I’m always studying the new artists. I’m not that guy that say, man this music today it ain’t nothing, it ain’t nothing like it used to be like.
That’s when you’re old, that’s when you’re outdated, but when you can appreciate the newcomers as well as you can appreciate the Stevie Wonders, and the Sam Cookes all in one, you kind of stay fresh, and you kind of stay up on what’s going on, and you can be able to study it and continue to upgrade yourself. You know, no different than the iPhone. Comes with different apps and different new things. And that’s what I like to consider myself as.
” I love music and I keep my ears close to music, and I’m always studying the new artists” – R. Kelly
Rule #8: Keep It Real
Host: Do you have one set process in how you make a song or is it different with you every single time.
It’s different every single time, but at the same time, you know, I believe in keeping it real. And when I’m singing on these tracks I don’t really write the song, I let it write me. So whatever it tells me to say, if it say hey, say feeling on your booty.
♫ Feeling on your booty I’m just gon’ say it.
Woman host: Sing it Kells, sing it!
You know, if it tell me to go, say I know this gon’ sound stupid, but say bugabugabuga, okay.
I’m not, you know. I’m just gon’ keep it real, you know, I’m a keep it real, ’cause if that’s what the music tell me to do, that’s what Ima.
Rule # 9 Don’t Stay In One Lane
Well not to promote it too fast, but my book is called R. Kelly No Lanes. And what that means is, I’m not in no lane. The Earth is my turf when it comes to this music.
Interviewer: That’s a book you put out.
Interviewer: Another book?
You know it’s R. Kelly, No Lanes. And because you get put in a lane, and if you stay one lane man that’s just really where you gon’ go. That one lane gon’ lead you to one place. Ain’t no particular address that I’m going to, ain’t no particular street I want to ride on, you know. And like I say Earth is my turf, and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Rule #10: Have Heroes
I had all of his music, posters, everything up, I had Moonwalker playing on the video screen. And I would just go for the song. As I look at Mike, I would sing what I thought he would sing. You know, I was just mimicking what I thought he would say on the lyrics and everything.
And then when he asked me, is there you anyway you can come in here and sing the backgrounds with me. I was like uh. Sure, uh yeah, of course, why not. Yeah, I’ll be in there in a minute, you know. And I walked out, and I got between the wall that he couldn’t see. And I was like. Damn. I’m finna mess up. I thought I was gon’ go in there and just like a little girl man, and just mess it up. But we standing there, he,
♫ You are not alone ♫ I am here with you
And all I got to do really, I’m telling myself, sing what you sang on the demo, you idiot. And you can’t go wrong ’cause you sounding like Michael on it anyway. So I’m doing that, and I’m he’s here, right here, at the same mic, we both got on headphones, and I’m going
♫ You are not alone He would look over at me, I’ll be like, ♫ I am here with you ♫ Though you’re far away ♫ I am here to stay ♫ You are not alone
And you know he got that little shake in his voice, man I was like, oh, I was just blown away. I’m standing here singing with Michael Jackson. Right here, I’m right here. I’m starting to grab his hand, but I ain’t want to do that, I ain’t want to do that, you know. We’ll just sing We Are The World, this You Are Not Alone, don’t do it. So I started to grab his hand, and just, just for good measure you know, but I ain’t do that. But it was a great time working with Michael man.
Thank you guys so much for watching. I made this video because Ruby Watson asked me to. So if there’s a famous entrepreneur that you want me to profile next, leave it down in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do.
I’d also love to know what was the biggest lesson that you learned from this video that you’re going to immediately apply to your life for your business. Leave it in the comments, and I’m going to join in the discussion.
Finally, I wanted to give a quick shout out to Ariel Ziv, thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, Your One Word, and then flying to Toronto to meet me, to get it signed. That was a fun day, I really appreciate it.
So thank you guys again for watching. I believe in you, I hope you continue to believe in yourself, and whatever your one word is. Much love, I’ll see you soon.
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