Last year (April 2018) I wrote that R. Kelly’s time might be coming to an end. He had just been abandoned by his PR team, personal assistant AND lawyer in a short span of time in a very public and humiliating way. Robert Sylvester Kelly’s long history of predatory behavior toward underage girls seemed to be catching up to him, along with brand new allegations that he was running a sex cult and infecting women with STD’s on purpose. Is that some f–ked up new version of geolocation? Instead of having a cell phone to track you where you are, R. Kelly’s hit men can scoop you up, draw your blood and go “Yes sir Mr. Kelly the sample matches — she’s one of yours.” That’s obviously science fiction but given how many things Kelly has gotten away with for how long it’s not hard to see how speculative fantasy starts to feel like reality.
In recent days I’ve seen people I’m friends with leave jobs in the music industry over the fact radio stations won’t blacklist his music and media moguls won’t reprimand him or outright shun him for his behavior. The animus for their exodus was the “Surviving R. Kelly” docu-series that aired on Lifetime, a series that Kelly and his personal legal team have attacked repeatedly and gone out of their way to smear before, during and after the time it aired. Every woman who has dared to speak out about her personal history with Mr. Kelly has been called a liar who slanders his name just for the publicity it brings their name, as if women really come forward to get 15 seconds of fame given the enormous backlash to accusing famous people of misdeeds. It’s reached a height of absurdity not seen outside of Scientology, which like R. Kelly seeks to discredit every single negative mention anywhere it appears in the media.
I don’t make this comparison lightly – I make it because both of these “cults” are not capable of taking criticism of any kind. Kelly is much like Donald Trump when it comes to the truth — keep lying until you can convince enough of the public that what you’re saying is true. It doesn’t even have to be a majority of the public — it just has to be enough to keep you afloat no matter how negative things seem to get. That may in fact be why sales of R. Kelly’s music spiked after the Lifetime series, as devoted fans who refused to believe he was capable of wrongdoing poured out their hearts with their wallets to keep Kelly flying for just a little bit longer.
Now though it seems that even RCA/Sony has had enough, suspending any release of Kelly’s music until further notice. On the surface this seems like a laudable gesture, but scratch beneath the surface and it’s barely flicking a flea. They’ve not taken any of his older albums out of print or suspended their sales. They’ve not released Kelly from his contract with the label. They’ve not reprimanded him in any public meaningful way that represents the frustration and anger I’ve seen from black women who walked away from jobs in the music industry. I want to repeat that point — this isn’t just about women not being believed or listened to, it’s about BLACK WOMEN not being believed or listened to. This is a sad state of affairs but hardly new given that black women always give more and get less than almost any other group in AmeriKKKa.
When #BlackLivesMatter that should also mean that #BlackWomenMatter, but unfortunately that is the very group of people that Robert Sylvester Kelly preys upon again and again. That makes the irony of so many of those women standing up to defend him unfathomable to so many people, and leaves so many others wondering if it’s Stockholm Syndrome or just plain hero worship. I’d like to think that in the face of evidence like the video seen below, where Kelly admits that Aaliyah was a teenager when he married her, would cause those people to reconsider — but Trump supporters never change their minds no matter how much he lies either.
“Right now I’m producing a very talented lady, young lady, she’s 14, Aaliyah.” That’s your own documentary bro. You admitted on camera that you knew she was underage when you married her. Right now I don’t blame anybody who wants to walk away from the music industry over this, ESPECIALLY any black woman who can no longer condone his actions, but only time will tell if Kelly’s wings really get clipped or if continues to keep on lying and lawyering up to get out of one more jam, then back into the studio to record some more.