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Vulture has published a piece which questions readers and music lovers about the legacy of R&B king R. Kelly, asking: “Is It Okay To Listen To R. Kelly?” – considering his sordid sexual history and legal drama with underage girls.
The profile piece compares his past with his legacy and cites conversations with the man himself, as well as a former Chicago Sun-Times writer who detailed Kelly’s sex assault allegations.
Kelly just dropped his latest album, The Buffet, and as he prepares to hit the road to support the album, no doubt he won’t be able to escape questions about his rumored sexual preference for pre-teens. As Vibe reports, Kelly acknowledges his tainted image and quite possibly a part o him – the part that has projects to promote – may appreciate how the controversy has contributed to his name staying in the media.
“I’m going to always have the gift along with the curse,” he says. “I feel like I got a million people hating me, I’ve got maybe 8 million loving me. So I’ve got 9 million talking about me, and in a strange, magical way, it keeps me in the game.”
Kelly has remained a source of media criticism since his 1994 marriage to a then 15-year-old Aaliyah. Then in 1996, he was sued by a young woman who claimed he slept with her when she was 15. This lead to two other lawsuits in 2001 and 2002. During a recent conversation about his sex assault lawsuits, Kelly gave strange and elusive answers to a series of questions about his questionable history.
Read the exchange below (via VIBE):
Do you have a sexual attraction to underage girls? I ask.
“That’s a rumor that comes from the Earth, like all rumors,” he says, sounding almost bored.
So it’s not true?
“No. It’s not true. I love women, period. If I wasn’t a celebrity, people wouldn’t be saying these things about me.”
How do you explain people close to you saying that you have a problem?
“I don’t know those people you’re talking about.”
I clarify: his brother, his ex-publicist, his former friend and longtime personal assistant.
“All those people have been fired by me. If you’re going to ask me these questions, you have to make sense out of it. It wasn’t until after they got fired that they said these things. Go figure. I got one life, and I don’t want to spend it talking about negativity. I’ve moved on. Maybe you haven’t.”
It’s not crazy to think that where there’s smoke there’s fire.
“Let’s correct that,” he says. “Smoke can be anything. I’ve seen smoke and then I looked and there was no fire.”
And what about all the settlements? All the rumors?
“I understand the game,” Kelly says. “Get as much dirt as you can on somebody, get it all together, and make it real juicy so we can sell some papers. I understand the job you guys have to do.”
How do you explain the tape that Jim DeRogatis got?
“I don’t have no recollection of none of that. My lawyers handled that, what, eight, nine years ago?”
Do you have a sexual compulsion or problem that you need help with?
“I only have a problem with haters. Other than that, I’m doing well. I feel better than ever with my album The Buffet.”
In your career, you’ve often sung about forgiveness. What do you need to be forgiven for?
“I go to church. I ask for forgiveness. Don’t make a big deal out of R. Kelly saying it in a song. I believe in God. I fear God. I don’t want to go to hell.”
Do you think you might?
“Young fella,” he says, “absolutely.”