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    Jay-Z, R. Kelly Together Again

    Apparently R. Kelly's kiddie-porn problems are no big deal anymore for Jay-Z.

    The duo was supposed to embark on a heavily hyped tour two years ago in support of their joint album, The Best of Both Worlds. But once Kelly's infamous sex tape surfaced and he was rung up on charges of possessing child pornography, Jay-Z balked at promoting the album, the tour was scrapped and the CD tanked.

    Now, with the Teflon-esque Kelly scoring chart-topping hits again and Jay-Z preparing to leave behind the recording biz, the twosome is ready to join forces again for a nationwide trek, it was announced today.

    The reconstituted Best of Both Worlds outing is scheduled to launch in Kelly's hometown of Chicago on Sept. 30 and will hit more than 40 cities nationwide before wrapping up in Phoenix on Nov. 28.

    The idea to reteam came about after the "Bump 'n' Grind singer performed with Jay-Z at the rapper's sold-out Madison Square Garden show last year to hype his farewell release, The Black Album, and impending retirement from music to focus on his budding business empire.

    The concert's buzz was so strong that both artists decided to renew their collaboration and hit the road.

    "We want people to be genuinely shocked and awed, we're on a shock-and-awe campaign," Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, said in a video statement.

    Added Kelly: "We want to blow up the world. In any arena we go to, we want to give them something they've never seen before. You never know what [can] happen when me and Jay get on that stage--we're spontaneous."

    Certainly aiding their decision was the fact that there doesn't appear to be any backlash from fans over Kelly's legal troubles.

    Kelly, whose full first name is Robert, was arrested on June 5, 2002 in Chitown and booked on 21 felony counts of child pornography stemming from a widely circulated tape showing Kelly engaged in lewd sex acts with a person authorities say is an underaged girl. Seven of the counts were eventually tossed out. Similar charges in Florida were also thrown out on a technicality.

    The Grammy winner has pleaded innocent to the Illinois charges and remains free on $750,000 bail.

    Despite the potentially career-ending allegations, Kelly has returned to his best-selling ways, releasing the multiplatinum Chocolate Factory. His new double album, Happy People/U Saved Me, dropping next week, is also expected to top the charts.

    Since his arrest, Kelly has also scored props at the Soul Train Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Vibe Awards and BET Awards and dominated this month's Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, where he won seven trophies.

    Meanwhile, the presiding judge has allowed Kelly to resume touring to promote the CDs provided the singer doesn't miss any court dates.

    The new tour could prove to be successful, too, according to Gary Bongiovanni, editor of concert trade Pollstar.

    "If they price that package properly and don't get too aggressive with it, they could do okay," said Bongiovanni. "Business is off in general in the concert business...Times are tough so you have to make it affordable."

    No word yet on ticket prices on on-sale dates.



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