Lawyers for singer R. Kelly were filing a criminal complaint against a member of rapper Jay-Z’s entourage and considering other legal action after the platinum-selling stars’ joint tour came to an abrupt end.
Kelly was booted from remaining shows at Madison Square Garden by the promoter yesterday (Oct. 30), a day after a member of Jay-Z’s entourage allegedly blasted Kelly with pepper spray, according to his publicist, Allan Mayer. The promoter announced that Jay-Z, with special guests, would do the shows alone.
Kelly’s lawyers were filing a complaint against the entourage member and considering action over the decision to remove Kelly from the tour, Mayer said. “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.”
Jay-Z and R. Kelly were in the midst of the 40-city Best of Both Worlds tour, which has been beset by canceled shows and reports that the feuding performers weren’t even on speaking terms.
The trek, which had been scheduled to run through Nov. 28, has been canceled, said promoter Jeff Sharp of Atlanta Worldwide Touring. Jay-Z’s publicist was unsure if the rapper would try and fill the remaining dates as a solo act.
The pepper-spray incident happened about an hour into Friday night’s show, when Kelly walked on stage and said he saw two people in the audience waving guns, Mayer said. Kelly abruptly stopped his set around 9:30 p.m. while arena security employees searched for weapons.
Finding none, guards told Kelly it was safe to continue performing, Mayer said. But as the singer was making his way back to the stage, a man in Jay-Z’s entourage — apparently miffed that Kelly interrupted the show — sprayed him and two of his bodyguards in the face. “I’m pretty sure Jay didn’t realize what was going on,” Mayer said.
All three men were treated at St. Vincent’s Hospital and released, he said. Jay-Z performed for another 45 minutes after Kelly was sprayed.
Jay-Z publicist Jana Fleishman said the rapper’s entourage knew nothing about the incident because it occurred while Jay-Z was performing. Jay-Z “did not attack R. Kelly in any way, shape or form,” Fleishman said.
In a Friday radio interview on New York radio station Hot 97, Jay-Z said he couldn’t understand why Kelly left the stage. “You can’t get a gun inside Madison Square Garden,” the rapper said. “If people give me love he can’t take it.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported discord between the two performers after Kelly showed up more than two hours late for a show in Chicago and walked off the stage mid-performance in St. Louis this month. Three shows on the tour were canceled because of “technical difficulties” suffered by Kelly, Fleishman said.
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