They're both control freaks, with an eye for detail and a shared fear of flying

By R. Kelli Bender
Updated December 09, 2013 05:00 PM
Credit: Frazer Harrison/AMA2013/FilmMagic; Columbia Pictures/Getty

R. Kelly’s album, Black Panties, dropped on Tuesday, but the singer has been planning its release since a certain undergarment landed on his wrist during a 2011 show.

Call us crazy, but Kelly’s pursuit of panty greatness calls to mind another talented man: the late Stanley Kubrick. (Yes, film theorists, you read that right.) While it may be hard to picture the mastermind behind The Shining and the singer of “Bump ‘n Grind” having a meaningful conversation, this odd couple has more in common than meets the eye.

Obsessed Over Details

Kelly: It’s easy to shrug off the mastery of R. Kelly’s music due to song titles like “Feelin’ On Yo Booty,” but the singer likes to be specific. Why else would he have 33 chapters of “Trapped in the Closet?”

Kubrick: The Eyes Wide Shut director, who passed away in 1999, was known for demanding perfection. Actors who worked with Kubrick noted it was common for him to do dozens of retakes until a shot was just right. Imagine what his artistic eye could’ve added to “Ignition (Remix).”

Shared Fear of Flying

Kelly: The crooner’s hit claims “I Believe I Can Fly” but R. Kelly secretly has his doubts. The performer has a fear of flying, and he prefers to travel by bus.

Kubrick: Born in New York, Kubrick eventually moved to England because of the country’s looser censorship guidelines. As a dedicated homebody, the director avoided flying. Far before the days of Netflix, he would have VHS copies of The Simpsons and Seinfeld shipped to him.

Dreams of Different Jobs

Kelly: R. Kelly briefly exchanged songs for sneakers, signing with the Atlantic City Seagulls basketball team in the midst of his musical career – which begs the question, why didn’t Space Jam put R. Kelly on the soundtrack and in the movie?

Kubrick: Like many stubborn teens, a 13 year old Stanley Kubrick was certain he wanted to be a jazz drummer one day. This dream quickly evaporated when Kubrick’s dad gave him a camera, leading to Kubrick’s lifelong love for photography and film.

Men of Genius

Kelly: Black Panties reveals that R. Kelly is a self-proclaimed sex genius, but that isn’t his only area of expertise. Outside the sheets, R. Kelly had more top 40 hits than any other male solo artist in the 1990s.

Kubrick: Surprisingly, many of Kubrick’s films were initially panned by critics. However, Kubrick is now considered one of film’s quintessential directors. He is heralded be fellow moviemakers for his willingness to take inspiring risks with filming styles, special effects and musical scoring.

Control Freaks

Kelly: The R&B star wrote, produced and mixed the majority of his albums. This level of control allows Kelly to steer his musical style any way he sees fit, including an album built around a pair of underwear.

Kubrick: The director served as the writer, producer and director on most of his projects, shepherding his films through every stage of creation. he also assisted with cinematography, camera operation and editing.

Fearless Feuds with Giants


R. Kelly and Jay Z‘s Best of Both Worlds tour ended up being the worst for everyone involved. The duo had continuous issues with one another on the road, allegedly feuding over Kelly’s legal troubles, ego problems and more, culminating in the tour’s cancellation.


Early in the director’s career, Kubrick was assigned to head One-Eyed Jacks, a movie starring Marlon Brando. Brando and Kubrick continually clashed over changes to the film. Eventually, Brando had the director fired and took over the project himself.

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