R. Kelly Opens up About his Closed Books

Music

John Kennedy / October 7, 2009

Singer R. Kelly has come clean about his longtime battle with illiteracy while speaking at a Chicago music fest recently. Kellz showed up at the Midwest Music Festival and confessed that he doesn’t know how to read well. “When I was trying to make it out here, I already knew, and I was stubborn about it,” he said. “I don’t even read really and I’m not afraid to say that. My cousins and brothers used to tease me ‘you can’t even read right. How you think you’re going to come up?’ The only reason I graduated from grammar school is because I had a great jump shot. I went to high school and [my teacher] told me ‘you will be one of the greatest writers of all time.’ I believed. You [have to] believe it. You can’t believe [anything] if you’re hating. You can’t achieve [anything] if you’re hating.” According to statistics released by the U.S. Education Department in January, 14 percent of adults in the United States are illiterate. Prior to Kelly’s recent confession, he has openly spoken about paying people to jot down his song lyrics. In the November 2000 VIBE cover story, Kellz explained, “I never write; the minute I pick up a pen, I lose [the words to the song].” –Linda Hobbs