R Kelly denies sexual abuse allegations in 19-minute song I Admit

The track also details the Chicago singer’s precarious finances and reiterates claims a family member sexually abused him as a child

R Kelly has shared a new song, in which the embattled Chicago singer addresses allegations that he imprisoned and mistreated young women in an “abusive cult”. I Admit also repeats Kelly’s claims that he was sexually abused by a family member in his childhood, and talks of his precarious finances.

Kelly (Robert Kelly) used his Instagram account to preview the 19-minute song, called I Admit, in a live stream on 22 July. He posted the track to SoundCloud on 23 July. “Today is the day you’ve been waiting for,” he wrote on Twitter.

In July 2017, three sets of parents accused Kelly of holding their daughters in an “abusive cult”. Kelly denied the allegations. In August 2017, Jerhonda Pace said she lost her virginity to Kelly when she was 16, a year below the age of consent in Illinois, and that she broke off their relationship after he “slapped”, “choked” and “spat on” her. Kelly did not respond specifically to Pace’s allegations. In October 2017, he denied radio DJ Kitti Jones’s claims that he physically and mentally abused her. Kelly did not respond directly to claims made in May 2018 by Faith Rodgers that he abused her “mentally, sexually and verbally” and infected her with herpes without her knowledge. However, he has made general denials of any sexual impropriety.

(August 31, 1994) Marries underage singer Aaliyah

Then 27, Kelly allegedly marries protegée Aaliyah, then 15, in an illegal ceremony in Cook County, Chicago.

(December 16, 1996)  Lawsuit from Tiffany Hawkins

Tiffany Hawkins files lawsuit alleging injuries and emotional damage from a three-year relationship with Kelly, beginning when she was 15 - it is settled out of court.

(February 3, 2002) Video emerges appearing to show Kelly engaged in sexual activity with a child

A videotape passed to Chicago Sun Times journalist Jim DeRogatis appears to show Kelly urinating on and having sex with an underage girl, which Kelly denies.

(April 16, 2002)  Lawsuit from Patrice Jones

Patrice Jones alleges that Kelly had a sexual relationship with her than began when she was 16, and pressured her into terminating a pregnancy. It is settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

(May 16, 2002)  Lawsuit from Montina Woods

Kelly is sued by dancer Montina Woods for secretly filming a sexual encounter between them. Kelly denies it, and settles out of court.

(June 13, 2007)  Kelly cleared of 14 counts of child pornography

A Chicago jury found that the identity of the girl depicted in the child video was not conclusive, acquitting Kelly of the charges.

(January 16, 2009)  Divorce from wife Andrea Kelly

Kelly is divorced from his wife Andrea. She had previously taken out, then rescinded, a protection order against him. In 2018 she details a history of alleged domestic violence during their marriage, that she says drove her close to suicide.

(July 17, 2017)  BuzzFeed reports that Kelly is holding women in a sex 'cult'

Three former members of Kelly's circle claimed Kelly was holding six women in properties in Chicago and Atlanta, controlling every aspect of their lives. Kelly denied the claims.

(August 22, 2017) Woman accuses Kelly of underage sex and physical abuse

Jerhonda Pace told Rolling Stone that she lost her virginity to Kelly age 16, and that she ended the relationship after he allegedly slapped, choked and spat on her.

(March 28, 2018)  Accused of grooming 14-year-old as 'sex pet'

In a BBC3 documentary, former girlfriend Kitti Jones alleged that Kelly groomed an underage girl as well as her and other young women. Kelly refused to comment.

(April 17, 2018) Accused of 'intentionally' infecting women with STD

An unnamed woman told Dallas police that Kelly had given her an STD and attempted to recruit her into his alleged sex "cult" after the pair initiated a sexual relationship when she was 19. Kelly "categorically" denied all allegations.

(May 23, 2018)  Kelly responds to #MuteRKelly: 'It's too late'

Video from a private event depicts Kelly apparently describing attempts to suppress his music as "too late".

(July 16, 2018)  Kelly releases I Admit

Kelly releases I Admit, a 19-minute song protesting his innocence.

(January 16, 2019)  Surviving R Kelly documentary series airs on US television

Numerous women including Andrea Kelly, Jerhonda Pace and Kitti Jones reiterate their allegations in Lifetime docuseries Surviving R Kelly. Prosecutors appeal for any further victims to come forward – three women come forward in the days that follow.

(January 16, 2019)  Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper remove R Kelly collaborations

Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper apologise for working with R Kelly, and remove their collaborations from streaming services.

Kelly makes numerous references to these allegations, and to his sexual proclivities, in I Admit. “I’m so falsely accused,” he sings. He says that his lawyers have advised him to settle, “even though it’s bullshit”. He responds to specific allegations about his relationships with minors: “I admit I fuck with all the ladies / That’s both older and young ladies / But tell me how they call it paedophile because that shit is crazy.”

He questions, “What’s the definition of a cult? What’s the definition of a sex slave?” and reframes allegations of violence and imprisonment as consensual matters, claiming that some girls “like to get branded”, have their hair pulled and be spanked. “I admit there are times when these girls so fine, they’ll chill with a nigga for a week,” he sings. He claims he has slept with fans, and that parents pushed their daughters on him in an attempt to make money: “Don’t push your daughter in my face and tell me that it’s okay / ‘Cause your agenda is to get paid / And get mad when it don’t go your way.”

Kelly appears to address the Women of Color branch of the Time’s Up movement, who backed the #MuteRKelly campaign, which urges his record label, streaming platforms and concert promoters to disassociate with him: “They don’t want me to shine, women’s group, my god,” he sings. A statement released by Kelly’s management previously described the campaign as an “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture”.

Kelly frames the allegations against him as an attempt to dismantle his career. He singles out Jim DeRogatis, who was the first mainstream reporter (in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2000) to cover Kelly’s alleged sexual impropriety and pursuit of underage girls. DeRogatis has continued to pursue the story, and broke the “cult” allegations in BuzzFeed. “Off my name, you done went and made yourself a whole career,” Kelly sings. He also addresses Spotify’s removal of his music from their editorial playlists.

Kelly reiterates his previously made claims that he was sexually abused as a child. “Now, I admit, a family member touched me,” he sings. “From a child to the age 14, yeah / While I laid asleep / Took my virginity / So scared to say something / So I just put the blame on me.” In an interview with American GQ magazine in January 2016, Kelly said he forgave his abuser. “As I’m older, I look at it and I know that it had to be not just about me and them, but them and somebody older than them when they were younger, and whatever happened to them when they were younger. I looked at it as if there was a sort of like, I don’t know, a generational curse, so to speak, going down through the family. Not just started with her doing that to me.”

In February 2018, Kelly was evicted from two of his Atlanta homes over unpaid rent. The following month, he paid $25,000 to cover past due rent and fees on an “abandoned” home in Duluth, Georgia. Kelly refers to his financial difficulties throughout I Admit, describing himself as “a broke-ass legend”. He claimed the only reason he tours so heavily is to pay rent, and that his label has previously lent him money: “All these hits out but I couldn’t put food on the table.” He claims that he was tied into contracts that he didn’t understand owing to his learning difficulties: “Said I had dyslexia, couldn’t read all them contracts,” he sings.

“How much can a nigga take? How much can a nigga pray?” he asks. “Just wanna do my music / Stop stressing me / Please just let me age gracefully.”


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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