”We want people to be genuinely shocked and awed, we’re on a shock-and-awe campaign,” Jay-Z said in a video statement released Thursday. It’ll certainly come as a shock to some fans to know that Jay-Z has not only not retired from performing, but that the rapper is resurrecting a plan that died more than two years ago: to go on a nationwide tour with embattled R&B titan R. Kelly.
The trek, still called the Best of Both Worlds Tour, after the pair’s collaboration album from 2002, will hit 40 cities, starting in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago on Sept. 30 and ending in Phoenix on Nov. 28 ”We want to reach the people that feel our music and that feel us and that love us, because we get on stage and return their love,” Jay said in the joint statement. Kelly put it a little differently: ”We want to blow up the world. In any arena we go to, we want to give them something they’ve never seen before. You never know what [can] happen when me and Jay get on that stage – we’re spontaneous.”
Kelly and Jay-Z were all set to launch a tour supporting the ”Best of Both Worlds” disc in early 2002. Then Kelly was arrested on child pornography charges, which are still pending; in fact, he’s due in court in Chicago three days before the tour starts. (Kelly has insisted that the videotape at the center of the accusations against him is a fake, and that the man featured in it is someone else.) Despite a brief backlash, Kelly’s career seems hardly to have slowed down; he’s continued to release top-selling records and has remained a sought-after songwriter and producer. His two-disc set ”Happy People/U Saved Me” comes out Aug. 24.
Jay-Z’s career hasn’t slowed down either, despite his continuous talk of retirement last year and a farewell concert held at Madison Square Garden (whose all-star roster of guest performers included Kelly). He’s the frontrunner at the Aug. 29 MTV Video Music Awards, with six nominations.