The singer-songwriter, born Robert Kelly, made the comparisons during a Hip-Hop Soul magazine interview, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday.
Kelly said: "I'm the Ali of today. I'm the Marvin Gaye of today. I'm the Bob Marley of today. I'm the Martin Luther King, or all the other greats that have come before us. And a lot of people are starting to realize that now."
Kelly's publicist said the quote, reprinted in the New York Post, was taken out of context.
Publicist Regina Daniels said Kelly doesn't "think he's Martin Luther King. He's comparing the fact that he is a prolific songwriter of his time; now it's turned into something else."
Kelly also said: "I have to walk with a certain humility. I have to walk with love in my heart for those that hate me."
Kelly has a Friday court date in the nearly 5-year-old case. He is charged with 14 counts of child pornography for allegedly videotaping himself in sex acts with an underage girl.