What is wrong with R. Kelly?

The simple explanation

Let’s start at the beginning. A prehistoric moment lost in the mists of time, specifically 1993, there was a gospel music song called Payday. It was performed by a famous gospel music group named The Winans, and featured a rap by a young bald man who impressed many by his charisma and his message of persistence, honest hard work, and persevering until the day you gain your reward, i.e. “Payday”. It went well with the Winans’ message of keeping to the faithful, righteous Godly path until you, as a Christian, get to your payday.

This young man then went on to release his own solo hit. Called Sex Me part 1. Those two words were pretty much all the lyrics. That there was a follow up single, called Sex Me Part 2, should have served as a further warning.

Which establishes the stage for us to begin to explain who or what R Kelly is.

The answer depends on who you ask. Ask his fans and supporters and they will tell you that he is the flawless, immaculate, unimpeachable paragon of human goodness, grace and virtue.

If you ask the alleged victims of his reported decades of sexual abuse, or the criminal prosecution apparatus of the United States of America’s judiciary system which has brought ten counts against him, he is a remorseless sex predator, a disgusting monster.

This stark divergence of options is due to something called the phat jam amnesty effect. If you have popular music hits, you can get away with every single possible form of human evil.

Try it. Record a series of global chartbusting hit songs, and then proceed to stab a series of new-born babies. Film it for YouTube if you have a good phone. Then come and tell me I am right.

R. Kelly sang a lot of very enjoyable songs and for some people, it is difficult to grasp that a man can be both an entertaining singer and a paedophile. They cannot say, “That song was fun. Too bad the singer is the scum of the filth of the vermin that slithers out of the worst of the earth.”

They prefer to tell themselves that if he sang “Feeling on your booty”, “I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind” and “Sex Me”, which he sang twice, he cannot possibly be guilty of anything ever. 

He also sang inspirational songs about believing in yourself, including one with Celine Dion, but that was roughly twice. If he did more than three such songs, I don’t remember them. He spent too much of the rest of the time singing about how much sex he likes to do to women, never specifying what age range he had in mind, even though it was not hard to guess, considering that he had already famously married an underage girl and been tried in a very public and scandalous court case for performing a lewd act on another.

Is he guilty, then, one is compelled to ask.

He says he is not. He went so far as to say it through cascades of tears, weeping on a TV show, The Gayle King Show, and blubbered that he was fighting for his life.

He sobbed that he was innocent on the grounds that being a sex assailant would be stupid and he, R. Kelly, doesn’t do stupid things.

Which is evidently a bit disingenuous of him because even if you don’t count Trapped In The Closet, his interminable series of patently stupid songs, then his behaviour during that interview, which included prancing manically around Gayle King’s furniture like a middle-aged African-American minion from the Despicable Me films, suggests that he is not averse to the occasional lapse in basic sense.

His music may have been or even still be good but his alleged crimes are heinous.

One woman would be bad enough but the case alleges an entire sex cult that was manipulated and brainwashed for long periods of time. It could be dozens of victims.

There are people defending him, with a social media hashtag and all. Which brings us to Bernard.

Bernard is a mechanic. He is a genius with Toyota repairs in particular. I once caught him in my garage having sex with my wife, but my car had been making strange sounds every time I shifted gear, so I let them finish what they were doing, then told him to check the transmission. This is the closest I can get to explaining why people are so invested in protecting R. Kelly. They need their transmission fixed.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com