Is it okay to listen to him? Our driver changes lanes. Kelly grimaces, as if seeing an attractive woman in a passing car and not being able to do anything about it hurts. His assistant gives a sleepy nod. The SUV pulls in front of the studio. We step into an elevator. As it rises, Kelly, tall and wearing patterned jeans, sunglasses, and a baggy gray hoodie that mostly hides his slight middle-aged paunch, points his cigar at me. Here are some key things to know about R. Probably the most talented and sexually explicit, too. When he was 8, he watched helplessly as his first love, Lulu, drowned after bullies pushed her into a creek.
At 11, he was shot by thieves trying to steal his bike. The bullet is still in his shoulder. Kelly was musical from as far back as he can remember, and he began his career on the streets, singing for money in his clear, gorgeous tenor. Since then, Kelly has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 34 million albums. Aaliyah had signed an agreement requiring her to stay silent about the brief marriage.
Kelly settled out of court. In , a similar lawsuit with a similar result. Also in , another lawsuit, this one from a woman claiming both that Kelly impregnated her while she was underage and that one of his associates took her to get an abortion. Kelly settled. That same year, a woman sued Kelly for filming, without her knowledge, the two having sex. It goes on: at least a half-dozen more lawsuits, followed by settlements, followed by nondisclosure agreements.
There are also reportedly a handful of instances in which Kelly has agreed to payments before lawsuits were even filed. Presumably these, too, involve NDAs. Kelly having sex with a girl alleged to have been about 14 or 15 years old at the time.
It took prosecutors six years to bring the case to trial. He was acquitted on all charges. Despite all the allegations — and DeRogatis puts the total number of lawsuits in the dozens — Kelly has never gone to trial for, or even been charged with, statutory rape. Why not? Chicago attorney Susan E. And yet. He was obsessed. Sickly addicted. For a brief period after his acquittal, Kelly, musically anyway, appeared cowed. Divorce was presumably humbling, too. But in , Kelly let loose. Kelly still get away with making sex-obsessed music?
He takes small drags from his cigar. His assistant, a publicist, and a manager sit shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder on a nearby couch. Kelly performs beside me as the songs play — cuing imaginary musicians, pumping his fist, mouthing the lyrics, raising his hands to the heavens. Because this moment makes plain the conundrum of R. Tia, 34 and pregnant, is here too. She works in wealth management, and her husband is home with their young daughter.
Kenny is a year-old real-estate agent whose girlfriend bought him R. Kelly tickets for his birthday. He was unaware of any allegations. Of course, R. Kelly has heard that stuff, though at the studio he answers my questions only in roundabout ways.
Kelly Still Have a Career? Kelly had the good sense never to go after a white girl from Winnetka. He was [allegedly] targeting inner-city black girls. The white world, with some exceptions, did not give a fuck. Certainly not in the way they did about Cosby, who was an actual crossover artist.
Kelly is, of course, not the first popular musician to allegedly be turned on by minors. Elvis began courting Priscilla Beaulieu when she was Marvin Gaye impregnated a year-old. But none of them did so under the watchful eyes of the internet and social media. As best I can tell, many of R. So what, then, is someone like DeRogatis looking for? How should we hear R. When their mouths are fixed for some R. Kelly, they want the freaky stuff. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at once.
That, for example, a horrible person might make a wonderful song. Songs are better than people. And R. Kelly, in a weird way, through his sex obsession, makes that truth most obvious. Or about how those men are surrounded by enablers for as long as they remain bankable. Or how the media is not responsive enough when troubling things happen to young black women. Or how legal settlements and NDAs are effective tools for suppressing damaging information. Or that part of the fun for some listeners is in how far a singer might be willing to go, lawyers and good taste be damned.
Or how looking for rectitude from coddled celebrities is like looking for rainbows under rocks. You just do. I call a recording studio in California at seven in the morning West Coast time. A publicist puts him on the phone.
Do you have a sexual attraction to underage girls? I ask. I love women, period. How do you explain people close to you saying that you have a problem?
I clarify: his brother, his ex-publicist, his former friend and longtime personal assistant. Go figure. And what about all the settlements? All the rumors? I understand the job you guys have to do. How do you explain the tape that Jim DeRogatis got? My lawyers handled that, what, eight, nine years ago? Do you have a sexual compulsion or problem that you need help with? What do you need to be forgiven for? I ask for forgiveness.
Kelly saying it in a song. I believe in God. I fear God. Do you think you might? Account Profile. Sign Out. THE R. Tags: r. Promoted links by Taboola. More Stories.