Is It Okay To Listen To R Kelly?

In the wake of the powerful feminism birthing Me Too and Time’s Up Movement, are we still supposed to listen to R Kelly? Does justice entail dismissing his contribution to music in our playlists? Welp. I have a confession. I still rotate his songs in my playlist. Sorry


With a variety of songs in my collection, from Anthony Hamilton to Heather Headley to my obsession with Destiny’s Child, I rarely if ever listen to some of them. But they are always there. R Kelly’s Chocolate Factory, 12 Play and Love Letter are always there. Hit after hit. Electric slide after electric slide. Underage girl after underage girl. This shit got me asking myself, am I now a passive sexual deviant by extension? Why can’t I give up the renowned Pied Piper of RnB?


R. Kelly’s career has spanned decades, and public knowledge of his many instances of manipulation of women has followed him for the majority of it. This is a man who married a 15-year-old Aaliyah in his late 20s, made sex tapes with underage women, peed on said women, the list goes on.

People talk all the time that you should separate art from the person who made it. This often comes up around people like Jay Z with his Becky, Chris Brown and his Tyson fists, Tyrese and his crying ways and of course, R. Kelly. While that logic does hold some substantial water, (we only expect Sasha Fierce on the stage, not all the damn time), the same can be said that it enables terrible people to continue on their merry way. I don’t expect celebrities to be perfect, everyone is flawed and has their demons. I just ask that they not be, you know, sexual predators or dedicate themselves to making lives worse for marginalized people.

Yet here we are. His 20 documented years as a sexual deviant will make you despise him as a person and lunge curses his way. But sure enough if any one of his songs came up in my shuffle mode, I wouldn’t necessarily skip it. For reasons I can’t fully articulate.


Most of his music usually falls into 2 distinct categories; wholesome inspirational songs about how Jesus is Lord and Savior; and filthy ones about highly imaginative and freaky sex employing ingenious metaphorical innuendos. Cue In The Kitchen and Ignition. For every Heaven I Need a Hug and You Saved Me is an equal measure of Feeling on Your Booty and I Like The Crotch On You. Make no mistake he is the don of contemporary RnB because he has contributed to some great acts in his entire discography. From Isley Brothers to Aaliyah to Timbaland and Missy Elliott, to name a few, he is possibly the most influential element in RnB.

Damn you R Kelly! Now I have to be severely liquored up when jamming to Bump and Grind to ease away the guilt. And locked away somewhere in the privacy of me, myself and I. Can’t have people thinking I am not woke enough. Or worse yet that I am a vain airhead. Never mind that I actually have my name tattooed on myself. Sigh..

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