The album features the sexually-themed singles "Bump N' Grind" (U.S. #1), "Your Body's Callin'" (U.S. #13), and the more overtly direct "Sex Me, Pts. 1 & 2" (U.S. #20). The album serves as the first of a trilogy of albums Kelly later released under the "12 Play" moniker including TP-2.com (2000) and TP-3: Reloaded (2005). Since its initial mixed response from critics, 12 Play has received more favorable retrospective criticism.
Following the success of Born into the 90's (with Public Announcement), Kelly begun touring as an opening act for Gerald Levert and Glenn Jones. During the tour, Kelly said that he became frustrated with the poor lightening and empty seats during his set. To generate more attention during his set, Kelly begun to think of a gimmick to take his show to the next level, something that would make people remember him. Kelly stated: "I thought about it for a couple of days, and I finally came up with a little skit, me just talking to the audience. At the point in the show where I would break down "Honey Love," I would start talking to the audience."
Can I tell you all something? Can I keep it real? Can I tell you about a dream I had last night? Well, I actually had a dream where I made love to Mary J. Blige.
Hey, it was only a dream, but it was so vivid, it felt real; but in this dream, it was more than foreplay - it was 12 Play. Can I sing it for y'all? Tell y'all how it went?
The audience yelled "YES!" and Kelly's piano player accompanied him with chords. Kelly then begun the countdown, "One. We'll go to my room of fun." The "12 Play" gimmick became so big that when Kelly went to radio stations to promote Born into the 90's, the DJ's wanted to hear "12 Play." The demand for "12 Play" was so big that R. Kelly decided to create an album titled 12 Play.
"I didn't really know if the album would be as successful as it has been, but I hoped that it would. I was really taking a chance with the concept of this album." - Kelly on the concept of the 12 Play album, 1994.