Well firstly, Happy New Year to you all! It kind of sucks that my first post of the year has to be quite this serious. However I’m pretty sure there are very few people who’s minds were not reeling after watching the Surviving R Kelly docuseries, which aired on Lifetime in the US on Friday 3rd January. They sure as hell wanted to make sure that everyone started 2019 woke.
I don’t know about any other 90’s babies who watched all six episodes, but afterwards I felt incredibly guilty. Now I’m not going to lie and say that R Kelly was my favourite artist when I was younger, and that I was a super-fan. However R&B was my absolute favourite genre of music back then. It still is today, but they don’t quite make R&B like they used to. It is very difficult to come across an R&B song created in the last few years that isn’t interspersed with pop. Anyway, because I was such a lover of R&B, of course I would have several R. Kelly songs on repeat. After all, he was at one point thought of as the King of R&B, although not by myself personally. It was Usher all day for me, but that’s neither here nor there.
I felt guilty because during the time that R Kelly had been taken to court, he was still dropping some of his biggest hits. I was one of the girls that you saw singing along to Ignition every time it came on, or I Believe I Can Fly or I’m A Flirt. But the year he went on trial, I was 14 years old, ironically around the same age as a lot of his victims. I had heard about the tape, but because he was never found guilty and still continued to be the star he is, I just assumed that it was untrue or just rumours. I never even thought about trying to find the tape to confirm if for myself, and to this day I still don’t want to do this. Of course I know that he was indeed guilty now; I don’t need to view the tape for myself. The fact that his brother, his ex-wife and several people that also knew the victim, including teachers and friends from school and Sparkle, who is her aunt, have confirmed his identity is enough for me. I know how this sounds, but this sex tape is child pornography. While I understand that a lot of people needed to view this in order to have their own piece of mind for confirmation, I just know that I am too sensitive to handle being able to see such a young girl be abused like this.
So anyway, at the time I didn’t think much of these rumours. Remember, these are things I would hear from friends in school. I remember being a young teenage girl, and even at the time I knew that about 50% of what came out of the mouths of most was bullshit. I knew this, because I wasn’t really any different at the time. So it was very easy to hear something like this and not take it seriously. To be honest, it’s only recently with the downfall of Bill Cosby, and the exposure of monsters like Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, that we as the public are really seeing the hidden horrors that seem to have been rampant in the entertainment industry for some time now. Horrors which a lot of the people we look up to in this industry were aware of, or had heard certain things about, but either turned a blind eye or did not think to ask the right questions. Apparently older men have been using their power to abuse women for years now, so no wonder R. Kelly thought (and still thinks) that he is invincible. We have allowed him to get away with this for so long now, which has instilled this God complex he seems to have. The fact that he is still denying these allegations, despite all the evidence and the countless victims speaking up, he clearly still has the idea that he is untouchable. It was only a couple of months ago that the video went viral where women were wiping the sweat off his face at his concert, and this was after the news came out about him keeping girls as sex slaves for his “sex cult” organisation he has hidden away.
I think that is honestly the worst part of it all. The fact that R Kelly has verbally denied all of these allegations, but all his actions do is show you exactly who he is. It’s almost like he’s trying to dangle it in front of our faces without trying to actually admit to who he really is. Charlamagne from The Breakfast Club even brought up the good point that he referred to himself as The Pied Piper back then. And who is the Pied Piper? The old German tale is that the Pied Piper was a rat catcher the people of Hamelin hired to lure all the rats out of town. Then when the town refused to pay him for his services, he retaliated by using music to lure their children out of town, never to be seen again. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but these seems like a crazy alter ego to choose for yourself despite the fact you have been on trial for child pornography, and have had several accusations of abusing under-age girls. This shows that he really didn’t care. He continued to flaunt his true self in such a way, but still somehow continued to captivate our hearts with hit after hit. The fact that I used to love this man’s music so much at the very same time that all these families were suffering, makes my skin crawl.
I just want to be clear by saying that my heart goes out to every single one of his victims, as well as all their families. However one thing I don’t understand is why there were so many victims that accused him of the same things, but ended up settling for a sum of money. Now don’t get me wrong, I completely appreciate that I have never been in this position. But I don’t think I would let anyone who did these heinous things to me think they could make it all better with money. Especially a lot of the families who made this decision, as their daughters weren’t even old enough to decide this for themselves. I really don’t think I could take the money as compensation, and then continue to look my daughter in the eye as she gets older, knowing that I compromised her integrity like this. She would have never even had the chance to make the decision for herself. Then when she’s old enough, I have to be the one to tell her that the money was more important to me than making sure the man who did this to her was put away for good. I understand that it can seem like an overwhelming concept when it is as big of a star as R Kelly, especially now that we are aware that his team are almost as bad as he is, with the several threats they have made to anyone who dares to speak out. But by taking money in exchange for silence, whether it was the victim’s decision or their family, we are inadvertently working for him as well by continuing to sweep this under the rug. This allows him to continue to do this to other girls, and gives him the idea that he cannot be touched. As I said, R Kelly and the members of his team who continued to aid him with these disgusting acts are the only ones to blame. However, if Sparkle’s family had been brave enough to confirm that it was her niece on the tape during the trial, R Kelly would probably be in jail as we speak and would have never had the confidence to even pick out another victim at his trial.
I also just want to finish by saying that the people who knew something was up, but chose not to say anything, please don’t think that you are any better. I don’t just mean people like his brother who downplayed R Kelly’s paedophilia by calling liking young girls “a preference”, or his old manager Demetrius who falsified Aaliyah’s identification to say she was 18 so that R Kelly could illegally marry her at 15 years old. I’m also talking about the countless people who saw him go to the same high school to pick up young girls almost every day, and would see several 14/15 year old girls hanging around with him in the studio. I’m sure you sleep at night thinking that there wasn’t much you could have done, but please tell me this. What if one of these young girls were your daughters? Or sisters? Or cousins? Would you still turn a blind eye, and simply just think to yourself, “hmm that’s a bit weird, but ohh well.” One thing I am glad about is that I think that people are finally starting to realise how fucked up this culture really is, and that it is in our best interest to ask all the relevant questions or speak up when something doesn’t seem right. It may save several people years of abuse and trauma. I know that I for one have learnt my lesson to do research on anyone that I choose to speak praise of or be a fan of. I have also deleted every single R Kelly song from my phone. I know some people are having trouble letting go of some really great music, which I do understand. After all we cannot deny the guy was talented, and a lot of his songs have given us all a lot of significant memories at some point in our lives. But if we could be making light of all these strong women who have come out with their stories every time we bounce along to Ignition or grind to Bump & Grind, is it really worth it?