Kelly was in trouble again, and it was really bad this time. It was 2002, and police were investigating a sex tape that appeared to show the R&B superstar with a 14-year-old girl. Of all the scandals that had stirred around Kelly in his decade of fame, this one felt especially dire.
But Kelly remained a potent talent, a hitmaker who suavely skipped from sexy make-out jams ("Bump n' Grind") to inspirational tear-jerkers ("I Believe I Can Fly"), and the industry wasn't done with him yet. Even as bad publicity swirled, Kelly could always retreat to the studio, where he wrote No. 1 hits for some of the world's biggest stars, including Michael Jackson and Celine Dion. And that's just where David McPherson needed him.
A rising young executive at Epic Records, McPherson had made his name by signing the Backstreet Boys and Mandy Moore and was eager to launch the label's new boy band, B2K, with Kelly's behind-the-scenes guidance. He did, however, ask one question about the star's offstage life.