2008 Power List: 38. R. Kelly

Singer (Age: 41)

When image consultants say there's no such thing as bad publicity, a sordid, six-year-long case involving sex, minors, and videotape isn't what they have in mind. R. Kelly just may have turned conventional wisdom on its head: Despite being repeatedly written off, the singer became infinitely more culturally relevant during his legal ordeal. He's released four No. 1 albums, of which he's sold more than 8 million copies, and landed 21 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and 10 in the Top 20 (including "I'm a Flirt" and "Same Girl"). And rather than tone down his raunchy lyrics, Kelly has pumped up the perviness (from the recently leaked "Kiss Your Candy": You got the club on pause/ In your jeans real tight/ I can see your little crack/ Wanna hit them drawers). "People roll their eyes, but they still download his music and networks still play his videos," says Natasha Eubanks, creator of the gossip blog the Young, Black, and Fabulous. "We've all seen the sex tape, we know the damn deal. But he's in his own lane musically, so he can get away with it." The King of R&B's new challenge is continuing his reign now that he's beaten the rap.


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