Acused of running an “abusive and controlling cult” of young women, of grooming a 14-year-old girl to be his “sex pet”. and of giving a woman an STD and plying her with drugs and alcohol when she was 19, there’s been a lot of controversy for R Kelly to answer to in recent months and years.
While he has strenuously denied all such allegations of sexual misconduct, Kelly has stayed relatively quiet on all of the above, other than a few statements and public comments. But this week, Kelly has responded to the claims this week with a 19-minute track called ‘I Admit’, an unwieldy stream-of-conscious reply to the accusations as well as other headlines written about him. Kelly says in the song that he intends to “set the fuckin’ record straight”, arguing that he “had to write a song about this, ’cause they always take my words and twist it”.
The sheer slog of getting through the track (as well as a widespread boycott against the singer’s music altogether) means you might find it hard likely to get through the entire 19 minutes. So, for those who didn’t manage it, here are the most interesting bits.
Kelly says he’s “made mistakes”… just not the kind of mistakes you were expecting
‘I Admit’ is knowingly named to troll. Kelly does indeed make a lot of admissions in the song, just mostly not the ones everyone were anticipating. “I admit I done made some mistakes,” he opens the track, saying, admitting that he has “some imperfect ways“. He then goes on to admit that he dropped out of school, doesn’t go to church and acknowledges that he’s both “a gift and a curse“.
The first verse isn’t just miscellaneous admittance though, Kelly also confesses to having “fucked with a couple of fans“, “fucked my girlfriend’s best friend“, as well as having slept with his best friend’s girlfriend.
He admits to liking “young ladies” – but denies being a paedophile
In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography, pleading not guilty and eventually being acquitted of all charges in 2008. Earlier this year, Kelly faced fresh accusations when a BBC Three documentary featured claims that the star had “trained” a 14-year-old girl to be his “sex pet”. Kelly denied these allegations.
On ‘I Admit’, Kelly addresses these claims, singing: “I admit I fuck with all the ladies, that’s both older and young ladies,” adding in the next line: “But tell me how they call it paedophile because that shit is crazy”.
Kelly denies running a sex cult
Last July, Kelly was accused of running a cult of sex slaves, with the accusations emerging in an extensive investigation by BuzzFeed which included several accounts from parents who claimed that their daughters were being kept against their will in several houses being rented by the singer.
“Say I’m abusing these women, what the fuck that’s some absurd shit,” Kelly responds on ‘I Admit’. “They’re brainwashed, really? Kidnapped, really? Can’t eat, really? Real talk, that shit sound silly”. He goes on to ask: “What’s the definition of a cult? Whats the definition of a sex slave? Go to the dictionary, look it up. Let me know, I’ll be here waiting.”
Kelly does admit to engaging in volatile sexual encounters
Denying accusations of underage sex and abuse, Kelly instead paints a picture of sexual encounters of a volatile but consensual nature, saying that he’s “got some girls that love me to pull they hair,” that “love me to talk dirty when I pull they hair”.
“Some like me to spank ’em,” he adds. “What some of these girls want, is too much for the radio station. Look I’m just a man y’all. Not a monster or beast.”
He labels the accusations against him as “opinions” and “assumptions”
Kelly goes on to downplay the claims facing him by saying: “You may have your opinions, entitled to your opinions… But really am I supposed to go to jail or lose my career because of your opinion”. He later adds: “They makin’ assumptions… Since when do assumptions, cost a man his whole career. Found guilty when you’re innocent, is the only times that I fear.”
He compares himself to Bill Cosby
In April, Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault after over 60 women accused him of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery and other forms of sexual misconduct over the years.
Kelly references this on ‘I Admit’ with the line, “Ain’t seen my kids in years, they tryna lock me up like Bill”, although it’s not quite clear if Kelly is saying that he thinks Cosby was innocent or whether he’s just comparing his highly publicised allegations to Cosby’s own fall from grace.
He feels like he deserves more “respect”
At one point, R Kelly points to his back-catalogue – listing his trio of ’90s hits ‘Bump and Grind’, ’12 Play’ and ‘Fed Up’ – as reasons why he deserves “some respect” and “a fair play”. He also calls himself “the most disrespected artist” around.
He thinks you can separate art from artist
The idea of whether you can separate the art from artist is a pretty big debate. On ‘I Agree’, Kelly suggests that you can, arguing: “See my work has nothing to do with my private life. So stay the fuck out of my business and tend to your own damn life”.
Kelly claims that he talked to Wendy Williams about Aaliyah
R Kelly names several high-profile names of people who have publicly distanced themselves from him, such as Steve Harvey and John Legend, saying that while he “loves” them, he doesn’t understand “why would they wanna tear down another brother“.
Likewise, Kelly namechecks Wendy Williams, the US talk show host who – despite initially offering her support to the star – recently said: “At this point, what do you say? R. Kelly is apparently very guilty of a lot of things”. On ‘I Admit’, Kelly claims to have engaged in a conversation with Williams in which they “both turned off our phones” and drank, smoked and talked.
According to Kelly, he “told it all” during the undocumented chat – “from my good points to my faults“. Kelly claims that Williams asked about Aaliyah and to which he replied simply, “love“. “She said, ‘What about the tape?’ I said ‘hush’. I said my lawyer said ‘don’t say noth,'” he goes on.
Kelly says he himself is a victim of sexual abuse
In his 2012 autobiography, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, Kelly reveals that he was sexually abused by a woman at least ten years older than him when he was younger. On ‘I Agree’, Kelly goes on to stated that the unnamed individual took his virginity while he “laid asleep” and that he was “so scared to say something, so I just put the blame on me”.
Despite the allegations facing him, Kelly says he still supports Time’s Up
In April, activists from the Time’s Up movement called for an investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations facing Kelly, backing the #MuteRKelly social media campaign against the star.
On ‘I Admit’, Kelly argues that while his name has been “dragged in the dirt” despite having not been “convicted” or “arrested”, he still backs the “women’s group” speaking out about abuse in Hollywood. “Now don’t get it twisted, I do support ’em,” Kelly says, “but why they wanna bring down the R”.
He suggests he’s being targeted because he’s famous
Kelly presents his allegations as a consequence of fame on ‘I Agree’, arguing that the claims are “just some shit that come with being a celebrity“. He goes on to say that he “ain’t chasing these ladies… these ladies are chasing me” and that he’s “tired of everybody wanting a piece of me,” adding: “Shit, I’m not an ATM machine“.
Kelly reveals that he has no money
Having revealed that he signed his publishing rights away early in his career, Kelly continues to describe himself as a “broke ass legend“, saying that “the only reason I stay on tour is ’cause I gotta pay my rent“. He also reveals that he had to borrow millions from his label and has experienced moments when he “couldn’t put food on the table“.
Kelly continues of having to adjust his lifestyle and spending habits: “I was told I had to sell my cars, I was told I couldn’t get a loan. Said I owed 20 million to the IRS and they were coming to get my home… I admit I was feeling stupid, staying in the Homewood Suites… Sippin’ Hennessy, tryna figure out what happened to me”.
He blames his money woes on the fact that he can’t read or write
It isn’t exactly news that R Kelly is illiterate, he’s spoken about that fact in the past. It is, however, the first time that the singer has prominently addressed the matter in his lyrics.
“I admit I can’t spell for shit,” Kelly sings, adding that he “couldn’t read the teleprompter when the Grammy’s asked me to present [an award].” Later, R Kelly claims to also suffer from dyslexia, saying that the learning difficulty meant that he couldn’t read the contracts he signed early in his career. This, Kelly says, has meant that he doesn’t own the rights to his own music after he “signed my publishin’ away“.
Finally, Kelly says he can be an “inspiration” to young people
In the last verse of the song, Kelly concludes things by discussing how he can be used to “help” and “inspire” young people in his hometown of Chicago. “No disrespect to Chi-Town, my home,” he says. “But we’ve got to learn how to support our own”. Kelly adds: “We’re losing young lives in our city. Instead of judging me, y’all should be using me to help these kids, raise them out of depression and poverty. Now I’m not saying I’m no savior, but I can be an inspiration.” This, he says, “is an invitation“.
You can listen to ‘I Agree’ in full here.