Featured, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

If You’re Still An R. Kelly Fan In 2017 You Might Be A Worse Person Than R. Kelly

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

I’m not going to say much about R. Kelly because, at this point, on the seventeenth day of July in 2017, there’s not much I can say about R. Kelly that hasn’t already been said. And repeated. And reported on. And recounted through anecdote. And even said by me on this very space four years ago.

With other artists guilty of criminal behavior, there can be a certain cognitive dissonance that can happen when the art and the unseemly acts by the artist have no connection. R. Kelly’s music doesn’t allow for that. His art and his actions are irrevocably linked. They can not be unlinked. It’s like shoes and soles. Or Knick fans and disappointment. He makes crazy, nasty, deviant sex music because he’s a crazy, nasty sex deviant. These are not two separate parts of him.

And also because R. Kelly is who he is. A talented musician — a person actually considered by many to be the most talented contemporary musician — and a man who, for years, used his considerable wealth and influence and status to prey on young Black girls. And continues to do so.

The word evil isn’t often employed when characterizing him, because using that term to describe someone so popular, talented, charismatic, and handsome seems counterintuitive. Troubled? Maybe. Conflicted? Perhaps. Complicated? Definitely. Evil, however, seems to be taking it too far. But the acts he committed are plainly and patently evil. Shit, while attempting to quantify evil is usually a fool’s errand, there aren’t many evils more evil than a rich and powerful man sexually violating poor and powerless girls. And then vaingloriously teasing us about it because he knows there’s not much we can do about it.

Which is why today, on the seventeenth day of July in 2017, I can’t help but wonder if fans of R. Kelly today in 2017 just might be evil too. Or, at the very least, evil adjacent. The fans upset that other people dare be disgusted by R. Kelly. The fans still paying hundreds of dollars to attend his shows. The fans who twist themselves into logical origami defending him, still. The fans who still say things like “R. Kelly can still get it” and “Those girls knew what they were doing.” The fans who parade him at concerts and honor him at awards shows. (And yes, this includes the peers who still make music with him.) The fans completely aware of his misdeeds but still completely apathetic to and unaffected by them. The fans — all of them — so enamored with and attached to R. Kelly the artist and his songs about sex that no evil act committed by R. Kelly, the person, matters.

Perhaps evil is too strong of a word to describe someone conscious of it who remains intentionally indifferent to it and arrogant about the indifference. But I can’t think of a better one. So if you can, please do.

***

If you’re wondering why the above may have sounded vaguely familiar — like you’ve read it somewhere before — it’s because, if you’ve been a VSB reader for at least two years, you probably have. I wrote pretty much this exactly same thing in 2015; the only edits where I updated the year from 2015 to 2017. I didn’t change anything because — despite the horrific Buzzfeed story today about R. Kelly’s multi-state cult and the several sex slaves caught in it (that line italicized to represent the WTF!!!-ness of this all) — nothing has changed. He is who he is. And now, in 2017, we have over two decades worth of evidence of his criminal and criminal-adjacent sexual behavior. He hasn’t stopped because he has no incentive to stop. If anything, DeRogatis’s report shows that he’s just become better at it. A craftsmen who surpassed the ten thousand hours of practice master threshold.

R. Kelly is an evil man who has preyed on Black women and girls for 25 years now. Maybe longer. And will not stop until he’s imprisoned. Or killed. If you still defend him and your fandom, that’s your right I guess. Just admit that enjoying his music matters more to you than what he’s done. And what he’s doing. And what he’ll continue to do.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • AKA The Sauce

    I’m in disbelief honestly….like how does this happen? How did he get off in the first place? Evil is winning in 2017.

    • cakes_and_pies

      It’s not too me. Black girls and Black women don’t seem to be protected on a grand scale, even by some other Black women and Black men.

      • AKA The Sauce

        Yea, that bothers me. Some of the women were lured in and taught how to please him. Like…how do you want someone else to go through that. We should have know something up when he called himself the “Pied Piper”. That story pretty much says it all.

        • Here in MN (in the largest county in the state) the county sheriff’s son was recently charged with attempting to lure a minor for s3x. His contact with the minor went through a woman. She was the bridge. She was recruiting girls for him. She reportedly offered up some cousin of hers who was like, under 10 I think.

          It’s so sickening to think about.

      • miss t-lee

        Bingo.

      • Michelle

        This sentiment came to my mind after reading a Tumblr post, in which people were supporting a teenager because he blasted NWA’s “F@#! Tha Police” from his bedroom window while a funeral procession (for a slain police officer) was going on, outside of his building, in The Bronx. The police officer was a black woman, who was also a mother of three children.

    • How? Decades of support, protection, and defense.

  • miss t-lee

    Any upcoming new reports/article about R. Kelly should just read: R.Kelly–still a POS, story to follow.

    • I was just talking to one of my sisters and she said her coworkers who have teen daughters are defending him. They trotted out the “fast tail girls” defense. I told here to ask them what would happen if it were a white man doing this to black girls.

      • miss t-lee

        Ugh. That makes me so angry.
        And…you already know the answer to that question.

      • Ah, the fast tail girls defense. Any woman under 25 who dares to have raging hormones deserves to get abused because otherwise, how will older women ever get a date? *eyeroll* Humans can SUCK.

      • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

        They are girls he is a man

      • NonyaB?

        Basically: If they had the chance, they’d probably pimp their daughters too. SMH

  • *In Matthew McConaughey’s voice*

    “Now imagine if Robert Sylvester Kelly was white…”

    • Dmaclee

      Better yet…imagine if those girls/women were white.

      • That would only turn the law against him. I wonder if a white man with money doing what he does to black women/girls would turn his fans on him.

        • Dmaclee

          My faith in what anyone of any race will do to protect black women and girls is waning. Le sigh…

        • Good question

          • I’m just puzzled because I know people with young daughters who f***s with this dude. It’s always puzzled me.

            • Once my ex-husband and I had a full on debate with his cousin and his wife about why they shouldn’t be supporting Kells anymore. It just didn’t get through.

            • UdonNo

              Dumb people do dumb things.

            • grownandsexy2

              Some of us are real adept at compartmentalizing.

      • Cheech

        I’m imagining Waco and the Branch Davidians.

        Interesting fact: David Koresh believed he had musical talent.

      • You win the internet

        • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

          Made that point earlier. If we need to sink him find 2 white girls

      • miss t-lee

        He would’ve been under the jail in the mid 90s.

        • If what I’ve read about dude and how he got down before he was famous would’ve never been anything more than a regional singer from Chicago before being indicted. He would done 20 years already and be out here making struggle R&B like Sean Fury.

          • miss t-lee

            After that village voice piece dropped, more than a few ladies from Chicago were giving the lowdown about him on twitter. Basically, this been his M.O. since forever…and folks have just let it happen.

            • That’s the piece I reference. The fame he has now only made old disgusting habits worse. I remembered people talking about him on Twitter.

              • miss t-lee

                Wild.

    • UdonNo

      theres a million white guys like him, even worse.

      • DjPoohmixes

        UdonNo You Right :)!!!

      • Rastaman

        At least they pretend its a religion and try to hide behind the First amendment this perv is out here tempting ninja fate. We all know how this is going to end, we will be rid of him when a “white savior” comes riding in on that proverbial horse. Unfortunately we may also have some “jack leg” activist who will come to his defense as another brotha being dogged by the racist system and some us will fall for it too.

  • NonyaB?

    Sho you right, DayMoan. Even worse are those actively enabling/facilitating this creep’s behaviour. As I said earlier: HOW in this day and age is anyone allowing their offspring near that animal??? The first mother in the report said she was aware of the stories but “wasn’t overly worried”? And they expect who exactly to help them in this case, when their daughters are of legal age? I was so disgusted that I stopped reading the BuzzFeed report after the 3rd paragraph. I can’t with people. This time, the parents in question actually pimped their own children but are now complaining because he changed the rental agreements to lifetime/whenever he tires without their permission.

    • They tried to sell their daughters for fame and fortune. Disgusting pieces of crap.

    • Unfortunately, from personal experience, people pimp their kids all of the time. They want to get on that fast track, but don’t want to work for it.

      • Rastaman

        People pimp their kids to Pookie on the corner for rocks!!
        R Kelly’s of the world will always have takers for what he has to offer too many of us are willing to overlook the most vexing things especially if they stand in the way of our wants.

      • NonyaB?

        Yep, I’ve heard of it especially in the entertainment sector.

  • Courtney Wheeler

    This reminds me of the HBO documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper. Terrifying…sad…

    • miss t-lee

      I haven’t seen it, but I’ve read a few articles about that dude.

    • charisma_supreme

      ….. that man wasn’t silent, nor hiding. His friends that they interviewed knew all abt it, even saw pictures and heard his first hand accounts but “oh so shocked that he could do this”. Side eye.

  • NICUGRAD2016

    It a shame because Happy People is a great song that is played at every black cookout Ive been to in the last 5 years.

  • DCFem

    Yeah because not only is there no excuse for his evil adjacent fans but someone needs to call out folks who’ve done duets lately with him like Lady GaGa. This is a woman who wrote a song about rape and has spoken out against sexual assault. Yet she works with R Kelly. Folks like her deserve to be called out more than the morons who bought concert tickets. She has money, power and influence and she used it to support a sexual deviant.

    • NonyaB?

      Yep, been knowing Gaga ain’t sh*t since she collaborated with RKelly and separately with Terry Richardson (photographer and well known predator in the fashion/modeling world). Consecutively working with highly problematic people while supposedly up against the very sh*t the predators are know for shows her hypocrisy.

    • Leo Brown

      Yes! Someone said it. She along with a WHOLE list of artists need to be slapped. You KNOW this is going on and yet because he makes “hits” you give him a pass? I don’t think so.

  • Chuck Moulton

    I said to a friend just a few weeks back, something to the effect of, “Voting for Trump doesn’t mean you are a racist…but it does mean you are ok with racism. Just like buying R Kelly music doesn’t make you a pedophile, but it does make you ok with bankrolling pedophilia.” Evil is as evil does.

  • siante

    If I see one more auntie on my Facebook timeline defending R. Kelly’s shenanigans -_-

    • “But si, he’s a musical genius.”

      • siante

        And “he’s still fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine”

        And “I just went to his concert in NY & he can still get it!”

        And “I don’t care what anybody says, I will never stop listening to his music.”

        Looks like I’ve got some “unfollowing” to do today lol

    • MakesMeWannaShoopShoopShoop

      Many people are still caught up in ‘Step in the Name of love”.What are they going to dance at weddings if they drop him?

      • miss t-lee

        Plenty of other songs/artists outchea.

        • siante

          exactly, throw some reggae on at the wedding & get everybody windin’ – they’ll forget R. Kelly even existed.

          • miss t-lee

            That or literally anything.
            EWF has an entire catalog…lol

      • siante

        It’s the emotional attachment & the memories that people have to his music. It’s pretty telling that people aren’t willing to let go of those good “feels”– EVEN after learning somebody’s a pedophile.

        • miss t-lee

          I loved the absolute heyll out of my TP2 screwed & chopped album.
          It’s been ruint though. Can’t listen anymore.

          • siante

            Not gonna lie, that was a good album- but for that album he had “semi” calmed things down & then he came back w/ “reloaded” & all those “trapped in the closets” and turned his perv status all the way back up.

            • miss t-lee

              Actually that album dropped before all the allegations came out.

              • siante

                really?? I could’ve sworn the “feeling” on your boo ty joint was after?? Oh well, looks like I’ve lost this round of pedo-R&B music trivia- it’s probably for the better lol.

                • miss t-lee

                  Nah. It was before.
                  The allegations came out and then he dropped Chocolate Factory.

                  • siante

                    You’re right- because after the allegations hit the fan, that’s when he released “I believe I can fly” & started pandering to the church folk.

                    • miss t-lee

                      I Believe I Can Fly was way before all this though…lol

                    • siante

                      LOL! nevermind- I was a youngin’ and obviously my timeline of events is all screwy

                    • miss t-lee

                      HA! It’s all good.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    …….. (takes seat)

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