Here’s some amazing news: R. Kelly — the guy who has written hits like “You Remind Me of Something,” given us cinematic gems like the “Trapped in the Closet” saga, battled against child-pornography charges, and admitted that he couldn’t “read really” — is penning a memoir. The book will be released in early 2011 from Tavis Smiley’s publishing house, Smiley Books, and will address the death of Kelly’s mother and his six-year legal battle. Here’s what he had to say in a press release: “I’m tired of being misunderstood. I will show you the tears, fears, and sweat. I will open my heart and reveal the good in my life as well as all the drama.”As someone who still believes it was Kelly engaging in sexual acts with an underage girl in that now-famous video, I’m sure this memoir, co-written by David Ritz, will be a big fat self-pat on the back for Kelly, who says he rose from the gutter of the South Side of Chicago by believing in himself and loving the haters. It doesn’t matter that Kelly probably won’t be able to read the book himself. In fact, reading doesn’t seem all that important to him — he revealed he was illiterate while giving a “speech” about the hard work and determination that is required for young people to achieve their goals. He says he graduated from grammar school because he had a “great jump shot,” and that a high school teacher told him he’d be an amazing songwriter, so everything was all good with him. But I think Kelly talking about his experience reinforces social promotion, especially since he didn’t take any steps as an adult to better himself. How can young people face their hurdles in school head-on if their teachers are going to let them continue to the next grade without knowing the material? The majority of people don’t have the opportunity to become famous like Kelly; the future for an illiterate person in this age is bleak.
If R. Kelly’s track record in the public eye is any indication, this book will not be a must-read, but will instead reinforce the delusions Kelly has about his place in society. I say he should stick to singing and keep quiet the rest of the time. [Vulture, NBC Chicago]