Pied Pipeeeeer: 10 Songs You Probably Didn’t Know R. Kelly Wrote
Say what you want about R. Kelly personally (we get it, he’s a mess), but musically his contributions to the jams on our iPods has been major. When we’re not listening to one of his classics (my personal favorite is the “I Can’t Sleep” remix), we’re listening to somebody else’s music that he wrote and produced. And while you can often tell when he’s written a song for an artist (he sometimes does background vocals for them or appears in their video), sometimes his contributions go unnoticed. But not anymore! Here are 10 songs written by the R-uh that you might not have known he was behind.
“808” by Blaque
Boom like an “808” was by R. Kelly? Tis true, tis true. It was written solely by Kelly and he also helped to produce the track. Released in 1999, they were the supposed to be the new Millennium’s TLC, and they gained a lot of attention out the gates with this song. It was a hit, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, and four on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Tracks.
“Fortunate” by Maxwell
These are two heavyweights I never would have thought would collaborate on a tune, but they did, and I’m glad they did! “Fortunate” is one of my favorite Maxwell songs. R. Kelly wrote and produced the song, which was a track featured on the Life soundtrack. The classic is actually Maxwell’s biggest hit (“Pretty Wings” is right behind it), peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Tracks charts.
“King of the Dancehall” by Beenie Man
Random! Not only does R. Kelly do R&B, gospel and pop joints, he also dabbles in reggae music from time to time. The song “King of the Dancehall” was co-written by R. Kelly with the help of Beenie Man of course, and Maurice Gregory. And though it did decently well (80 on the Billboard Hot 100, 22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Tracks), it created a lot of controversy and beef between Beenie Man and reggae/dancehall artist Yellowman. Yellowman accused Beenie Man of trying to come for what he felt was his crown as the “King of Dancehall”:
“‘Everybody know seh Beenie Man is a fool. Him tryin’ to mek people feel like him was here before me, but him never deh here before me.'”
“You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson
You know you’ve made it to the big time when you’re writing for the legends. R. Kelly wrote a few songs for Jackson over the years, but “You Are Not Alone” might be their biggest collaboration. The song was allegedly about tough times in Kelly’s life, and because Jackson liked the demo of the track, they co-produced the song together. It went number one on the Billboard Hot 100, but the success came with controversy. A writing team from Belgium claimed Kelly plagiarized from them for the song. In Belgium, the song has actually been banned from being played altogether because of the legal drama…
“Bump, Bump, Bump” by B2K
I don’t know about you, but back in the day, for me, B2k could do no wrong. Now that they’re defunct, I can clearly see that I was wrong, but when I hear some of their jams from the past, I can’t help but smile. Like “Bump, Bump, Bump” for instance. It’s not a classic of any sorts, but it’s a cute song nonetheless. Written by the R-uh and Varick Smith, Kelly also produced the track, which sounds a little bit like the song “Gigolo,” which is his collaboration with Nick Cannon. The song was so big that it went number one on the Hot 100, the group’s first top 10 hit.
“Hell Yeah” by Ginuwine
Now THIS is NOT a good example of a good song written for someone else by R. Kelly. It sounds more like a song the Pied Piper would sing on his own time, and Ginuwine’s usually good vocals get overshadowed by the over-the-top beat and lyrics (is he rapping or singing? Only Kells knows and can do that…). And the fact that they asked Birdman’s non-rapping behind to hop on this track was too much for me. However, the song did pretty good on the charts, peaking at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
“I Don’t Want To” by Toni Braxton
Nobody does a sad ballad like Toni Braxton vocally. And nobody writes a heartfelt one like your boy Kells. The two teamed up for “I Don’t Want To” for her second disc, Secrets. The song was written and produced by Kelly, and it was about dealing with a tough breakup. It didn’t blow up on the charts as expected like her other single “You’re Makin’ Me High” (instead, it peaked at 19 on the Billboard Hot 100), but it still did well and remains one of Toni’s more underrated deep cuts.
“Where You At” by Jennifer Hudson
One of the big challenges for Jennifer Hudson musically, if you ask me, is finding a ballad or dance-worthy song that actually fits her unique voice. “Where You At” was actually one of the few songs she has done that fit her, however, it was just a tad bit too slow to really make a wave on the radio (it peaked at 64 on the Billboard Hot 100). But critics loved the R. Kelly written and produced track, which Hudson clearly delivered on vocally.
“More And More” by Joe
LOVE this song. From the beat (which actually does sound like something R. Kelly would put together with the guitar and keyboard elements) to the chorus and the breakdown at the end, it’s just a very underrated banger. Sadly, Joe has quite a few of those. Joe is a pretty great songwriter on his own, but he got some help from the Pied Piper for this one, which was initially supposed to appear on R. Kelly’s Loveland album. The song went on to peak at number 15 on the US Hot R&B charts.
“G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.” by Changing Faces
Changing Faces worked with R. Kelly a few times when their career was really heating up (and he was a big part of that success), including on the popular jam, “Stroke You Up.” But their best song, in my opinion, is “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T.” Yeah, it’s a little on the depressing side, but if you’ve ever felt some kind of way about a negative relationship, you can relate. The song was written and produced by R. Kelly, and it went platinum, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard R&B charts for a whopping seven weeks.