The first week of 2019 offered us an informative and nauseating—yet necessary— docuseries on Robert Sylvester-the-child-molester Kelly, better known publicly as musician R. Kelly. Rumors about Kelly’s predilection towards teenage girls were confirmed, and allegations of his constant, consistent abuse of women were laid bare. For most people familiar with the self-proclaimed “pied piper of R&B,” the doc uncovered nothing new. Kelly’s career has been haunted by his predatory perversions since the ’90s (Read: We know this fool is a nasty ass creep. Who names THEMSELVES “the pied piper,” a character known for leading children off a cliff with music? A NASTY ASS CREEP IS WHO).
But seeing the episodes professionally compiled, coupled with heartbreaking images of parents trying desperately to communicate with their brainwashed, sequestered daughters, brought Kelly’s ghosts of misdeeds past (and present) to life in 2019. What remains most frightening is the number of people who continue to support his nasty ass. Most of Robert’s supporters fall into the 40+ age bracket, meaning they are too damn old and have too many gigabytes on their data plans to fall for the okie doke, and therefore should absolutely know better. They’ve convinced themselves that the survivors are lying, but like the old folk say: “Everybody ain’t telling the SAME lie on you.”
He has male and female supporters alike, which should make any decent human being cringe in horror. The female supporters are quite the conundrum; for starters, they’re absolutely too old for him to find desirable, so if they’re holding out hope that their fandom will win them a place in Robert’s heart, bed, or song lyrics, they are sadly mistaken. Additionally, as a woman, they should be fully aware of how young girls are routinely targeted for sexual abuse by older men, and usually suffer in silence. They probably have girls in their own households or families who have been abused, but after seeing their reactions to the R. Kelly situation, will never say a word.
Most Generation Xers/Xennials were in middle or high school when 25-year-old Kelly hit the music scene with the group Public Announcement. The group found fast fame with their debut album and New Jack Swing sound, which was hugely popular in 1992. The album produced enough hits for Kelly to venture out solo, and the next year his “12 Play” album became one of R&B’s sexiest chart toppers. Even though most were too young to engage in the activities Kelly crooned about, he cemented his place in that generation’s musical consciousness and earned hardcore fans. During this time, he was also known to be a constant presence outside of Kenwood Academy, his former high school, propositioning (or having members of his crew proposition) the girls attending the school. Due to his fame, it was an easy task, and he readily avoided ridicule and resistance from surrounding adults. Let’s hear that one mo’ time: a 25-year-old man was able to prey on girls aged 13-17 for years, at their school, just because he had popularity and money.
Where were the administrators? The teachers? Where were the big brothers/cousins/uncles/daddies who would whoop a dude’s ass for this? Where were the cops, who were supposed to be protecting and serving these CHILDREN? (Allegedly, Kelly had police officers on his payroll then and now to keep him out of trouble. There is currently no evidence to support this claim…besides the fact that he is still walking around as an unharmed, free man.) Is the proximity to money and power so intoxicating that people are willing to offer up young girls as a sacrifice to have it? In the case of R. Kelly, it seems that way.
Around this same time, Kelly was grooming 14-year-old label mate Aaliyah Haughton as an artist…and as a lover. He was lead writer and producer on her 1994 debut album, whose “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” title was, in hindsight, a reflection of his relationship with the singer. (Newsflash: Robert BEEN a bold ass, nasty ass MFer.) As much as they attempted to keep it under wraps, people detected something untoward going on in this supposed mentor/mentee situation. The docuseries produced witnesses that revealed 27-year-old Kelly’s illegal marriage to Aaliyah happened due to a pregnancy scare when she was 15, and that forged documents were produced to claim she was 18 (the marriage was annulled by her parents months later). After the annulment, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and severed all ties with Kelly and his crew (See? This is what happens with parents who cared more about their child’s welfare than fame, fortune or even HER career).
Amid sexual harassment charges that were settled out of court, what brought Kelly’s behavior to the legal spotlight in 2001 was the now infamous “pee tape”—a video recording of Kelly and an obviously young girl (said to be 13/14 at the time of the recording), having sex with and urinating on her. This young girl was actually the daughter of Kelly’s guitarist and niece to his former background singer turned protege, Sparkle. According to Sparkle, when she found out her niece was being sexually abused by R.Kelly, she went to her siblings, but nothing was done. When asked to testify in court, Sparkle identified the young girl on the tape as her niece, but the girl and her parents refused to testify. Due to their refusal, R.Kelly has never been found guilty of any legal misconduct and has remained free to wreak havoc upon others. (See? THIS is what happens with parents who care more about fame, fortune and their careers than their child’s welfare.)
The doc goes on to highlight victim after victim of Kelly’s manipulative abuse, some of which are still, to this day, under his control. Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage went to the media with their claims that R. Kelly is holding their daughter Joycelyn hostage, refusing to allow her to contact them. Joycelyn later appeared in a TMZ video denying the claim, yet it was reported by a former Kelly employee Joycelyn was coached on what to say, and Savage’s father points out where you can see someone signaling her in the shadows on the recording. Angelo and Alice Clary, whose daughter Azriel has not talked to them for three years since turning 18 and running off with Kelly, attempted to get Chicago PD to do a wellness check at the studio where she is allegedly living with Kelly. CPD’s hands were tied, however, and the parents were denied any access. The Savages and Clarys are still fighting to contact their daughters, and reportedly, Kelly is facing criminal investigations in both Georgia and Chicago after the docuseries aired.
That it took a major network to air a 6 hour, 3 day special for most people to pay closer and more serious attention to this situation is mind-boggling. This should serve as a wake-up call in our communities to not only #BelieveSurvivors, but to also remove celebrities and people with money and influence from the pedestals of immunity when it comes to harming our children. No song is worth more than a child’s innocence. No amount of money is worth selling out our youth. For those that want to continue to support deviants like R. Kelly, step your ass in the name of sexual assault and criminality from now on—because you have no idea what the word love means. The faster we #MuteRKelly, the less likely anyone in the future will have to proclaim #MeToo from his reign of terror.