You may not have seen it yet but you’ve definitely heard of the “Surviving R.Kelly”. The six part documentary has shocked the public psyche with it’s detailed allegations of the abuse R&B singer Robert ‘R.Kelly’ Kelly perpetrated against a series of underage African American girls. Whilst these allegations are not the first to be made against R.Kelly, it is the first time that such a large group of individuals have come together to expose Kelly’s actions. This docu-series has been labelled a “turning point for black girls.”
Kelly and Aaliyah’s marriage
Kelly’s alleged deplorable behaviour has long been public knowledge. His tour manager Demetrius Smith revealed that in 1994 he had organised false identification papers that allowed Kelly to marry the, then fifteen year old, singer Aaliyah. Kelly had been introduced to Aaliyah by her uncle when she was just twelve years old.
If the idea of a twenty seven year old man marrying a fifteen year old girl somehow doesn’t make you uncomfortable take another look at the cover for Aaliyah’s 1994 single ‘Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number’. Seeing R.Kelly looming in the background feels much different when we know that he’s just three months away from illegally marrying the minor.
The world moved past that, Kelly and Aaliyah were divorced and both denied the marriage ever took place. The scandal washed away and society continued to consume Kelly’s music. Until 2002: an explicit video involving Kelly and an underage girl was released to the Chicago Sun-Times. Kelly denied that he was the man in the video but in June was indicted on twenty one counts of child pornography, in that same month he was arrested with 12 images of him involved in a sexual act with a minor on a digital camera. The girl on the camera was strongly suspected to be the same girl in the infamous video. Though the evidence against Kelly was incredibly damning he was found not guilty on all charges.
Abusive sex cult
It seemed the only lesson Kelly learned was to organise his depravity when details of an abusive sex cult centering around Kelly were released in 2017. Kelly was supposedly responsible for brainwashing, isolating and abusing a series of underage women. Three sets of parents came forward to accuse Kelly of holding their daughters against their will. In spite of that he managed to finish his 2017 ‘After Party’ tour and joined Charlie Wilson for his 2018 tour.
Last year Kelly came out with a nineteen minute long song called “I Admit” which many thought would be his confession to his decades of abuse. Instead Kelly admits to being illiterate, having been sexually abused by a family member in his youth and ‘not being perfect’. In truth, the song is an attempt by Kelly to deny the accusations made against him and gather sympathy. “They brainwashed, really? Kidnapped, really?” Kelly sings these words in an attempt to create doubt surrounding the very serious allegations laid against him. He has the sheer audacity to call the accusations against him “silly”, showing no regard for the lives of his victims.
Why Surviving R. Kelly is important
This is why Surviving R.Kelly is so important. With the last episode of the series having aired on January fifth, there have been real effects. However, not all the effects have been what you would expect. For some reason Kelly’s music has seen renewed interest on streaming sites and has even risen on the billboards. The scandal seems to be helping Kelly’s career which has baffled the world. Apple Music has taken his music off their site but other sites kept it on and it has seen a massive increase.
For more than two decades Kelly has allegedly preyed on innocent girls and yet we as a society have continued to ignore his victims. Even in the face of undeniable video evidence, the world has turned a blind eye to his actions.
We can’t let this be just another time R.Kelly got in trouble. How can we say we’re moving forward as a society if this monster can continue to destroy the lives of underage woman. Many groups have already called for a boycott of Kelly’s music and we should all do the same. We need to spread the knowledge of who Kelly really is and what he has allegedly done so that real action can be taken against him. There is no way to separate the art from the artist, Kelly’s music is about children and when he sings bump and grind he’s singing about minors. We can’t keep ignoring the facts. It’s time we take a stand against R.Kelly.