Ne-Yo says he still listens to R. Kelly: “I have always been a person that can separate the artist from the art”

“You just can’t deny the quality,” he asserted

Ne-Yo has shared his view on the argument that artists who have been disgraced should no longer have their works appreciated, admitting in a new interview that he’s still a fan of R. Kelly.

At the end of June, Kelly – who, prior to allegations of sexual abuse being made about him, had long been referred to as a modern-day R&B icon – was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty on multiple charges of sex trafficking and racketeering.

Speaking to The Independent to promote his eighth album, ‘Self Explanatory’ – which arrived last Friday (July 15) via Motown – Ne-Yo said he was unsurprised by Kelly’s sentencing, and stressed his support for those embroiled in the ‘Ignition’ hitmaker’s many heinous crimes. “I pray this gives everybody who feels they were victimised by him a little bit of closure, on whatever pain was caused,” he said.

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Ne-Yo clarified, however, that he does still play Kelly’s records “from time to time”, declaring that “you just can’t deny the quality”.

“I have always been a person that can separate the artist from the art,” Ne-Yo told the publication. “I don’t give a damn about your personal life, I don’t give a damn about what you’ve done wrong, or what you’ve done right – if I like the song, and it’s attached to a memory that means something to me, it has nothing to do with [the artist] as a person any more. It’s what this song means to me.”

Ne-Yo went on to say that he’s received backlash from acquaintances over his continued fandom of Kelly, noting: “I’ve been in parties where someone will turn on an R. Kelly record, and people will be like ‘Boo!’ That’s [bullshit], because you know good and well that before this happened, you’d be rocking out to this song, just like everybody else.

“Anybody who tries to say R. Kelly isn’t one of the best songwriters on the face of the planet because of what he did in his personal life, you’re looking at the wrong thing.”

Last week, it was reported that Kelly had become engaged to one of his alleged sexual assault victims. The news came after Kelly sued the Metropolitan Detention Center of Brooklyn (where he is incarcerated) for placing him under suicide watch.

Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean claims she did not believe her client is suicidal and has been put on suicide watch as “punishment for being high-profile”. Kelly was removed from suicide watch days later.

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Kelly is still set to stand trial in Chicago federal court on counts of child pornography and obstruction, and various other charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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