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Jay-Z, R. Kelly sever tour ties

November 02, 2004|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

The "Unfinished Business" between Jay-Z and R. Kelly just turned ugly.

The rapper and the R&B star have a new album of that title in stores, but it's a good bet their partnership will be ending right there. After a bizarre sequence of events over the weekend, the platinum-selling stars have severed their concert-tour partnership and unleashed their publicists and attorneys on one another.

The 40-city Best of Both Worlds tour was imploding by the hour on Monday, and if the tour goes on at all it will be without Kelly. The itinerary includes a Nov. 23 stop at the Arrowhead Pond and a Staples Center show the next night.

The tour, which began Sept. 29, has been volatile from the get-go, and before it arrived at Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday Kelly had reportedly infuriated his tour-mate by canceling three performances on short notice and delaying others. On Friday at the sold-out Garden, Kelly cut short his set and said he saw guns being waved in the crowd.

Jay-Z's camp dismissed that as fiction. "Jay-Z sees that statement as the equivalent of screaming 'fire' in a crowded theater," the rapper's publicist said in a statement, "and was unable to continue with someone whose actions could potentially create a dangerous situation." Jay-Z said Kelly called the show short because the fans were more appreciative of the rapper.

Kelly did try to return to the stage but was rerouted to St. Vincent's Hospital after a member of Jay-Z's entourage reportedly hit him with pepper spray.

"The fans deserve better than this," Kelly said in a statement. "I'd like the show to go on. It's really disappointing that Jay-Z and the promoter don't."

The Jay-Z and R. Kelly tandem has a snake-bitten history. Their album "The Best of Both Worlds" came out in 2002 just as Kelly was being charged with child pornography. The poor showing of that project inspired the "Unfinished Business" title of the new CD.

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