Who remembers R. Kelly?
You know – American singer/songwriter, bigtime record producer? One of the most well-known artists of the 90s? The guy responsible for hits such as Ignition (Remix), Bump n Grind and I Believe I Can Fly – songs that are, two decades later, still being played in nightclubs across the world.
The man has released 12 solo albums, as well as collaboration albums with Jay-Z, and has sold a casual 60 million albums worldwide. He’s just released a whole new album, named Black Panties, which is going gangbusters in the music charts. He also recently headlined the Pitchfork Music Festival in the US.
People are loving his new album and critics are mostly lauding his genius and calling it a major success.
Oh, and by the way, he’s also been convicted of a raft of criminal offences, charged with producing child pornography and has been accused several times of raping underage girls. Wait, what?
There have always been rumours about R. Kelly. Ask people about them and they’ll say “Yeah… Didn’t he pee on a girl once or something? Wasn’t he married to that Aaliyah singer? Whatever, I loved him in Space Jam!”
In actual fact, Kelly was charged (and later acquitted because the victim changed her testimony) with producing child pornography because a video surfaced of him raping and urinating on a young girl who had just finished the 8th grade.
He began a relationship with the late singer Aaliyah when she was 14 and secretly married her when she was 15. When her parents found out, the pair had the marriage annulled based on the fact it was illegal (you know, because she was just a child). He was 34 at the time.
There were countless more accusations of rape and predatory behaviour against young girls. There were numerous tapes of him engaging in sexual acts with minors, while no formal conviction was recorded.
So why doesn’t anyone seem to know about it? How is this guy still making a fortune in the music industry? Why are we buying his songs?
Part of the answer may be that these stories were broken before online news existed.
All the reporting done at the time about the allegations against R. Kelly was in print. And in today’s day and age, when you want to know something about someone, you Google it – but you can’t Google old printed newspaper articles. So the official records about R. Kelly have remained rumour only, and that’s if they’re mentioned at all.
That’s why one frustrated reporter is speaking out.