By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
Best of Both Worlds, Jay-Z and R. Kelly's 2002 collaborative album, brought out the worst in both performers. With Jigga's encouragement, Kelly took his leering lewdness to new depths ("pussy tastes like honey"); with Kelly adding polished R&B sheen to every track, Jay-Z started sleepwalking into his radio-friendly coast mode.
Both Worlds still could have been a hit, public tastes being what they are, but a sex scandal sabotaged it. Allegations of Kelly's underage antics broke right before the record's release date, including the widespread distribution of a video (unofficially titled R. Kelly, Urine Trouble) that wasn't exactly MTV-ready. (In defense of the accused, if that were a real R. Kelly video, Ronald Isley would have waltzed in for an embarrassing appearance as "Mr. Biggs.")
The labels scrapped their promotion strategies for the disc and removed the stars from the album's cover, saddling it with an ugly block-letter design. When Jay-Z and R. Kelly both shrugged off the flop and released spectacularly successful solo discs, it seemed that Both Worldswould become a rightfully forgotten footnote.
But for Best or worse, these cocky performers want any hint of failure erased from their résumés. Like knocked-out boxers demanding a rematch, Kelly and Jay-Z feel they were sucker-punched by circumstances and that lackluster promotion, not the inherent idiocy of the project, doomed the disc. On October 26 the duo returns with Best of Both Worlds: Unfinished Business, the most unnecessary sequel since Baby Geniuses 2. Bad ideas die harder than Bruce "Bruno" Willis, whose refusal to let his own dopey blues-singer dream die should qualify him to moonlight on Best of Both Worlds 3.
Like the album that spawned it, the Best of Both Worlds tour figures to combine the crappiest elements of its genres, with all the sappy serenades of a soul show and the unsatisfying medley-style set lists, baroque stage designs and goofy superfluous cameos of a big rap gig. All their lyrics spinning and joining together... Cue dream-sequence squiggly sounds.... R. Kelly: Hello, world! It's a great day. Be thankful. Put a smile on your face. It's love-o'-clock, and we're broadcasting live. Right here from the Chocolate Factory.
Oompa Loompas: Oompa Loompa!
R. Kelly: It's the weekend, and I can feel the love. I'm in a casual linen shirt and pants. I can't wait to dance. Happy people steppin' out tonight.
Joe Jackson: Get into a car and drive.
R. Kelly: Get your car shined. You remind me of my jeep; I wanna ride it. Girl you look just like my cars; I wanna wax it. Gimme that "toot toot." Lemme give you that "beep beep." I'm 'bout to take my key and stick it in the ignition. Foggin' windows up. I'm about to go to Loveland. Here comes this truck now.
[Jay-Z drives a truck onto the stage.] Jay-Z: Let 'em play with the dick in the truck. Kel' and Jigga, the best of both niggaz.
Jay-Z:I'm like, "Earth to Dave." Them crackers.
R. Kelly: Forecasts show we gonna be playing hits all day. [Eyes teenage fan named Aisha in the front row.] I like the crotch on you. [Leads Aisha to the stage, starts to croon.] If I were a pirate, baby, I'd discover you for me, 'cause you are a treasure. If I was a magician, baby, then you'd have no fear.
Aisha: If I were a preacher, baby, my sermon would be about how God opened up Heaven and rained you on me.
R. Kelly: If I could blink my eye and be a giant eagle in the sky, I would swoop down and fly you straight into the sun. An eagle delivers a letter that says the night will last forever.
Jay-Z: Jigga what?
Aisha:A young girl like me, raised up in a good family. Way too young. Shower down on me, wet me with your love.
Jay-Z: Can't wake up with a dry pillow.
R. Kelly: [Reading to Aisha, who is now sitting on his lap] Now, if I could write a book on how you make me feel, the title would be Strong Black Man. Have you ever heard the story about the Three Little Bears? See, they papa was gone for a long, long, long, long time. When he returned to his sweet little home, he had come to find that all of his porridge was gone. I'm feelin' on your booty.
Aisha: Doctor took me out of the womb and spanked me.
R. Kelly: I don't ever wanna hear you say that again. Let the music hypnotize you.
Aisha:[Hypnotized] I am a tall tree. I am a swift wind. I am a marching band. [Marches offstage.]
R. Kelly: [Alone in the spotlight] Life is a stage, and we're all in the show. We all blow. For ten years I've been straight. I was in the aisle of the grocery store. Before I knew it I was on my knees. Destination rainbow skies. I got tested, and the results came back. The doctor said, "I'm sorry. What was straight is now slanted."