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The album debuted at number 4 on the US Billboard 200, and also reached the top of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Untitled received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. The album has sold over 500,000 copies.
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In 1991, Kelly signed with Jive Records. Kelly's debut album, Born into the 90's, was released in early 1992 (credited as R. Kelly and Public Announcement). The album, released during the new jack swing period of the early 1990s, yielded the R&B hits "She's Got That Vibe", "Honey Love", "Dedicated", and "Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ)", with Kelly singing lead vocals. During late 1992, Kelly and Public Announcement embarked on a tour entitled "60653" after the zip code of their Chicago neighborhood. This would be the only album co-credited with Public Announcement. Kelly separated from the group in January 1993.
Kelly's first solo album, 12 Play, was released on November 9, 1993, and yielded the singer's first number-one hit, "Bump N' Grind", which spent a record-breaking 12 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart. Subsequent hit singles: "Your Body's Callin'" (U.S. Hot 100: #13, U.S. R&B: #2) and "Sex Me" (U.S. Hot 100: #20, U.S. R&B: #8). Both singles sold 500,000 copies in the United States and were certified Gold by the RIAA. In 1994, 12 Play was certified Gold by the RIAA, eventually going six times platinum.
Kelly's success continued with the November 14, 1995, release of R. Kelly, his eponymous second studio album. Critics praised him for his departure from salacious bedroom songs to embracing vulnerability. New York Times contributor Stephen Holden described Kelly as "The reigning king of pop-soul sex talks a lot tougher than Barry White, the father of such fluffed-up pillow talks and along with Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, [both] major influences for Kelly."Also in December 1995, Professor Michael Eric Dyson critiqued Kelly's self-titled album "R. Kelly" for VIBE. Dyson described Kelly's growth from the 12 Play album: "Kelly reshapes his personal turmoil to artistic benefit" and noted that Kelly is "reborn before our very own ears".
The album reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming Kelly's first number one album on the chart, and reached number one on the R&B album charts; his second. The R. Kelly album spawned three platinum hit singles: "You Remind Me of Something" (U.S. Hot 100: #4, U.S. R&B: #1), "I Can't Sleep Baby (If I)" (U.S. Hot 100: #5, U.S. R&B: #1), and "Down Low (Nobody Has To Know)" (U.S. Hot 100: #4, U.S. R&B: #1); a duet with Ronald Isley. Kelly's self-titled album sold four million copies, receiving 4 platinum certification from the RIAA. He promoted the album with a 50-city "Down Low Top Secret Tour" with LL Cool J, Xscape, and Solo.
In 1997, Kelly signed a contract to play professional basketball with the Atlantic City Seagulls of the USBL. He wore the number 12 in honor of his album 12 Play. Kelly said "I love basketball enough to not totally let go of my music, but just put it to the side for a minute and fulfill some dreams of mine that I've had for a long time." Kelly's USBL contract contained a clause that would allow him to fulfill a music obligation when necessary. "If Whitney Houston needs a song written", said Ken Gross, the Seagulls owner who signed Kelly, "he would be able to leave the team to do that and come back". "It wasn't a gimmick", Gross continued, "he's a ballplayer. He can play."
In 1998, he launched his own label, Rockland Records, in a distribution deal with Jimmy Iovine's Interscope Records. The label's roster included artists Sparkle, Boo & Gotti, Talent, Vegas Cats, Lady, Frankie, Secret Weapon, and Rebecca F. That May, Sparkle, Rockland's first signed artist, released her eponymous debut album. In addition to producing and writing the project, Kelly made vocal contribution to the hit duet "Be Careful", which became a serious factor as to why the album was certified platinum in December 2000.
On November 17, 1998, Kelly released his fourth studio and first double album, R. Musically, the album spans different genres from pop (Celine Dion), street rap (Nas and Jay-Z) to Blues ("Suicide"). Dave Hoekstra of the Los Angeles Times described the album as "easily the most ambitious project of his career". In the summer of 1999, he wrote and produced a majority of the soundtrack to the Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy film, Life, which features tracks from K-Ci & JoJo, Maxwell, Mýa, and Destiny's Child, among others. The soundtrack was also released on the Rockland imprint.
On November 7, 2000, he released his fifth studio album, TP-2.com, a project aligned with his breakthrough album, 12 Play. Unlike R., all songs on TP-2.com were written, arranged, and produced by Kelly. AllMusic's Jason Birchmeier gave TP-2.com 4 stars and stated: "Kelly knows how to take proven formulas and funnel them through his own stylistic aesthetic, which usually means slowing down the tempo, laying on lush choruses of strings and background vocals, taming down the lyrics for radio, and catering his pitch primarily to wistful women.
When the joint album leaked on February 22, 2002, it caused Jay-Z and Damon Dash's label, Def Jam-distributed Roc-A-Fella, and Jive to modify the album's release date in March. Jay-Z expressed frustration about the album leak to MTV News: "It's the gift and the curse. It's an honor that everybody wants your music fast, but on the other hand, it's another thing when the music gets out before you [want it to]. Because that's your art. You feel attached to it. You feel a certain way and you want people to go out and support it. The time that you take, it's like a piece of your life. You take parts of your life and you put it on these records and then for it to just be traded and moved around [is frustrating]. Upon release on March 19, 2002, The Best of Both Worlds sold 285,000 copies in its opening week and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200. It was a critical and commercial disappointment.
In May 2002, Kelly's initial sixth studio album, Loveland, leaked and was delayed for releasing in November. Kelly restructured the album which was later packaged as a deluxe edition bonus disc of the now-renamed Chocolate Factory. In October of that year, Kelly released the remix to its single, "Ignition". It charted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
On February 18, 2003, Kelly released the album, Chocolate Factory. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, ending the first two-week run of rapper 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'. It sold 532,000 copies in its first week. The album was also supported by its follow-up singles, "Snake" and the remix of "Step in the Name of Love"; the latter of which peaked at number nine on the Hot 100. Later that year, in September, Kelly's first greatest hits album, The R. in R&B Collection, Vol. 1, was released which included "Thoia Thoing" and two other previously unreleased songs.
Between mid-2003 and early 2004, Kelly began work on a double CD album, one with "happy" tracks and another with "inspirational" tracks. The double album, Happy People/U Saved Me, was released on August 24, 2004. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, with first week sales of 264,000 copies. Both of the album's titled tracks respectively performed underwhelmingly; "Happy People" charted at number twenty-nine on the Adult R&B song chart while "U Saved Me" peaked at number fifty-two on the Billboard Hot 100.
Two months later, Kelly and Jay-Z reunited to release their second collaborative album, Unfinished Business. The album received criticism and, as with the pair's previous collaboration, it was also a commercial failure, despite debuting at number one on the Billboard 200. Album promotion and its Best of Both Worlds tour were both plagued by tension between the stars, with Kelly reportedly showing up late or not at all to gigs. Kelly complained that the touring lights were not directed towards him and allegedly assaulted the tour's lighting director.
After finishing Happy People/U Saved Me and Unfinished Business in 2004, Kelly released TP.3 Reloaded in July 2005. It became Kelly's fifth consecutive number-one album in his career. TP.3 Reloaded was heavily cross-promoted by the first five chapters of Kelly's musical serial, Trapped in the Closet.
In December 2006, Kelly built momentum for his eighth solo studio album, Double Up, after guest-appearing on Bow Wow's "I'm a Flirt". Three months later, Kelly's remix of "I'm a Flirt" was released, but instead of Bow Wow, it features T.I. and T-Pain. On May 29, 2007, the album was released. It became Kelly's sixth and final album in his career to chart at number one on the Billboard 200. Kelly's other singles from Double Up titled "Same Girl" was a duet of Kelly and Usher, while "Rise Up" was a tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting that occurred earlier that year in April, a month before the album was released. The song was previously released as a digital download on May 15, 2007. Proceeds were donated to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund to help family members of the victims of the shootings.
In 2008, before and after being acquitted on charges of producing child sexual abuse material, Billboard reported that Kelly had plans to release his newest album titled 12 Play: Fourth Quarter in the summer of that year but the album was postponed. Billboard named Kelly among the most successful artists ever for its 50th Anniversary List. In the spring, the promotional single "Hair Braider", peaked at No. 56 on Billboard's R&B chart. On July 28, the entire album leaked online, causing the title to be scrapped.