It's Really Time to Stop Encouraging R. Kelly

What has happened to R. Kelly's career in the midst of these repulsive allegations was not appropriate, no matter the justification. Rather than encountering outrage, he has become even more successful. Record sales have skyrocketed. Positive album reviews contemplating R. Kelly's joke-or-genius status have accumulated.

Coachella, Bonnaroo and Pitchfork have all booked Kelly to perform in the past year alone.The über-popular dance-pop band Phoenix, which has a sizable underage fan base, even welcomed him onstage for a collaboration at Coachella.

Major artists continue clamoring to work with Kelly, despite the troubling allegations and the singer's asinine levels of misogyny in his music. First it was Jay Z in 2002, right in the midst of the videotape scandal. Then Kanye West in 2012.

Now Lady Gaga, who just so happens to have a massive following of underage fans. By way of their collaboration, she's promoting R. Kelly to them.

Until their duet from her new ARTPOP album, "Do What U Want," Gaga's young fans had probably never heard his name. Kelly had been somewhat stuck in obscurity when it came to tweens and teens during recent years. Earlier '00s hits like "Ignition" were much too long ago to have an impact on kids who are now around the age of Kelly's previous accusers.

Yet now, thanks to mainstream radio play on a pop song, these kids are singing along with R. Kelly's lyrics. We've opened the door for a man who, more likely than not, has some legitimate issues to deal with.

We've also lost sight of the responsibility we have in situations like this. From the artists who worked with him to management to the writers who covered him and fans who bought his records, we should have shut this whole thing down well before the end of the '90s. But we haven't.

Instead, we continue promoting a man who has settled lawsuit after lawsuit brought about by teenagers, all of whom accuse him of inappropriate sexual relationships.

We're writing news stories on R. Kelly's new, overly sexual and more than likely misogynistic album Black Panties. The name alone should clue into the subject matter. We're even writing up bits and pieces on his new "12 Days of Christmas" project, which he's promoted as "a whole lot of lovemaking" Christmas music. This is coming from a man accused of having a penchant for children, time and time again.

It's just gross.

We're still analyzing the contents of his epically long R&B operas, Chocolate Factory, for example, and we're waiting with bated breath for his performances on Saturday Night Live.

Something is wrong with this equation.

We should be pissed that Kelly is still recording music. We should be refusing to give him a platform to speak, and refusing to listen to his "lovemaking" Christmas album. For Christ's sake, the man settled a bunch of lawsuits with children who accused him of abuse.

He shouldn't be famous anymore, and he certainly shouldn't be promoted by the likes of Kanye and Lady Gaga. Come on. Personal responsibility is a thing, even for artists.

These girls were not adults, no matter how sexualized teens are in the media. Yes, they have breasts and asses, and there is video after video of teenage girls engaging in risqué dancing or dressing in skimpy clothing, but they are still not adults.

It's unjustifiable for this man to have a career at this point, and one has to wonder whether if the roles were reversed -- if the alleged victims were of another skin color, another demographic, or if the alleged perpetrator was someone other than R. Kelly -- would there not be more outrage?

They are children. Their brains react like children. Their maturity level is that of children. They are not adults. They cannot consent to having sex with grown men.

For what it's worth, I refuse to write anything further on the subject of R. Kelly. I will not listen to Gaga's collab, or Jay Z's, or Kanye's. The same goes for whatever artist jumps on his bandwagon next. We shouldn't be reinforcing societal ideals that promote abusers, musicians or otherwise.

And even if he were squeaky-clean, sans settled lawsuits or videotapes, I would still be questioning why he's on the radio. Really, his music kind of sucks.


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DeRogatis has been reporting this story for FIFTEEN years. Thank god the outrage may be FINALLY building. Yay for that. But PLEASE don't act like you all haven't been complicit in it and know for sure that if he had pee'd on a 15 year old Brittanie Shey instead of a 15 year old black child he wouldn't be trtapped in a closet he would be trapped in a cell.

MadMac topcommenter

Gaga is his label/management pulling in e'ry favor for a path back to crossover/mainstream acceptance. The last "tour stop" I remember in Houston was at the Arena Theatre--singing karaoke. Should've been billed as the "G. Glitter Legal Defense Fund Show." 

The people who buy his creepyfreaky music are gonna buy it even if video surfaces of him bumping uglies with an underage goat. Record sales will pay some bills but if he wants Prince money, he needs concerts and--sponsors. Shine a light on his sponsors and you'll clip his wings. 

Sherrie Cruz
Sherrie Cruz

I fucking agree! R. Kelly is a pedophile. He not only shouldn't have a career, he should be in prison. Fucking douche bag.


But..but...but...HIP-HOPERA!  It's sooooo goood!  He sings about turning left, then turning right, then going straight!  He's an ARTIST, you know?  It's not like he's Orson Scott Card or something;  the guy just made a couple mistakes!


MadMac topcommenter

"You all?" "Complicit?" Really? Where is the outrage in the Grio? Oh, here' today's story: "Can Feminists Enjoy R. Kelly Music?" This is the same group who published an article in defense of the Cleveland, TX rapists. Publications have avoided the story; some, no doubt, because it isn't their community/children. But I also have no doubt other publications have avoided the story because it's a lose/lose prospect.

BTW, the name game you play undercuts your argument and it's in poor taste. 


@MadMac Please don't think I am being snarky--I am not. However, I do not understand your comment in the least. It wasn't about what any other publication had said. I don't know what the Grio is or what rapists in Cleveland have to do with anything. No name game was being played. Of the 3 women who wrote the snarky wink wink nudge nudge articles about rapey ol R Kelly, Ms Shea's name happened to be the one I remembered without having to go back and check. Feel free to follow the links to the articles i provided . I believe Ms Shea's is from 2009 but the other 3 are all from the last 18 months and 3 out of 4 are written by women. My point is if one is to jump on a bandwagon one must be aware that there may also be luggage on the wagon slippin' and a slidin'.


@MadMac As for the comment about Ms Shey, I was merely trying to make the point that if this had happened to a single (as in one) white girl, this would have all ended fifteen years ago. It did not happen to white girls.  

  Signed, Lil Ole Cray Cray Me


@MadMac Maybe I am a poor writer or maybe you are a poor reader. Let me try to be clear. Yes I am glad that the Houston Press is treating this seriously 15 YEARS AFTER THE STORY BROKE AND HAS CONTINUED TO BE REPORTED ON BY JIM DEROGATIS, ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED MUSIC JOURNALISTS IN THE COUNTRY! Is it not conceivable then that other music journalists and publications might also have followed this path? One would think, right? Instead we got wink wink nudge nudge pee pee haha.FOR 15 FUCKING YEARS. Yes I am glad the tide is turning but lest Ms Lecht get all self righteous about things I simply wanted to point out that there had been a lot of snark about it here

. Is that clear enough for you or should I have Shea Serrano put it in coloring book form? Sychophant

MadMac topcommenter

You welcome Ms. Leicht's scrutiny/story on this perv in one line then attack the publication in the next and claim no snark intended? You allege race is the basis for the lack of coverage on this story and cite other publications/stories. I contrasted The Grio--an African American news and entertainment publication--as an example. And now you complain of bandwaggons after complaining of the lack of coverage. Cake and eat it to moment? 

As for the articles you cite--I get it, you don't care for Ms. Shae's writing. I have and will continue to disagree with authors here, often. But to use that author to illustrated a poorly thought out point vis-a-vis some twisted revenge fantasy does not advance your argument. It degrades both the person and your credibility. In that line and your subsequent defense, you go from dissenting commenter to cra-cra.

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