A couple of pieces making the rounds today remind us that Robert Kelly is a really suspect dude and quite probably a sexually predatory monster (note: insert the word “allegedly” wherever applicable here).
The first and most revelatory piece is a conversation published on the Village Voice site between Jessica Hopper, an author whom we’ve interviewed, reporting for the Voice, and acclaimed music writer Jim DeRogatis. DeRogatis originally broke the story of Kelly’s covered-up history of inappropriate behavior with teenage girls. As the article points out, Kelly’s appearance at the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer brought his past back into public discussion. DeRogatis, who has never dropped this fight, tells Hopper the details of Kelly’s allegedly horrific behavior, and shared with her the facts of the case, supported by testimony and documents (note that Kelly was acquitted of charges including child pornography, but has never been charged with rape, of which DeRogatis reports dozens of alleged instances). At one point, he delivered this devastating line that sort of sums up why it is such a big deal to keep this in the cultural consciousness: “The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women.” The victims, he argues, are being disregarded and forgotten, not least of all because they are black.
There is a second piece, by Drew Millard and published by Noisey (by Vice), that taps into the question of whether you can enjoy the music of R. Kelly, knowing of his despicable history:
“This all adds up to one of the defining questions of our time: Do we give people who do bad things a pass just because they’re talented?
The answer to this is ‘it depends.’ It’s easy to dismiss art because the artist did something terrible, and it’s just as easy to dismiss an artist’s terrible actions because they produce something great.”
This piece is less personal and confrontational than the Voice article, allowing that Kelly is a talented and original artist, whose ‘gifts’ have lead to both amazing music and “some truly heinous shit,” but in the end Millard rightly puts the responsibility on the listener:
“While the platitude ‘the avant-garde need not be moral‘ is often bandied about as a catchall explanation for why it’s OK to listen to music that might make some uncomfortable, everybody has their lines”this is art we’re talking about, and it’s as real as you allow it to be.”
Both articles point out that there are lots of great artists whose music we can enjoy without being brought down by their personal behavior. One big difference, though, is that Kelly’s songs relate directly to his sexual behavior – and thus it’s a lot harder to disassociate. But the important thing is that you be aware in the first place. Then you can decide how you feel about his Black Panties.
More like this:
Lostprophets Frontman Pleads Guilty To Depraved Sexual Offenses
FINE TUNINGS: JESSICA HOPPER LEADS THE CHARGE TO ROCK
Roy Harper Charged With Sexual Assault
Arrested Development: How Artists Are Affected By Jail Time
Way back in 2012 we brought you the news that R. Kelly would be revisiting his infamous hip-hopera, Trapped in the Closet. But if you thought that was the end of it, think again. Two years later, it looks like R. Kelly will indeed be treating us to yet another peek into this seemingly never ending saga. IFC will premiere the new chapters, and promises fans that the episodes will involve “more drama, more crazy situations, more tumultuous relationships, more Sylvester, more Pimp Lucius, more Reverend Mosely, more everything that you love about ‘Trapped in the Closet.'”
Since there is currently no release date, you’ll just have to revel in the fact that on Dec. 7 at 5:15pm (ET) you can watch the first 33 chapters in bliss, courtesy of IFC.
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2013 is going to go down in history as the year throwback pop took over the radio. Justin Timberlake led the Top 40 movement with “Suit & Tie,” Betty Who led indie acts with “Somebody Loves You,” and now Lady Gaga has recruited R&B legend R. Kelly to help her keep nostalgia alive and well with her ’80s drenched ARTPOP single “Do What You Want.”
Kicking off with a synth so thick it could rattle your skull through some decent headphones, “Do What U Want” is everything Gaga fans have been waiting for. “Applause” was a well-liked song, but it offered very little in terms of evolution from Born This Way. “Do What U Want” on the other hand, could not be more of a departure from the sound you’ve likely come to expect from Mother Monster. It’s relatively straightforward both musically and lyrically, though there are plenty of sexual undertones pulsing throughout, and nearly all her characteristic ‘theatric’ elements are nowhere to be found. This could be due to R. Kelly’s presence, but whatever the case, it makes for a single you won’t soon forget. Click below to stream “Do What U Want.”
ARTPOP is still a few weeks away from its November 5th release, but this seems like the beginning of the hype machine. Comment below and us know your thoughts on Gaga’s latest. (more…)
Thanksgiving is a time for oven-baked turkey, slow cooked vegetables, massive amounts of pie, and of course, family chaos. The holidays simply aren’t complete without a bit of craziness in the family kitchen. That’s why this year, we’re ditching the traditional Thanksgiving songs, and bringing you a platter filled with a few random, strung together songs, all representing what Thanksgiving means to us. It’s a little random, a little crazy, and a lot like the holidays.
So between the first forkful of green beans and stuffing, to the last spoonful of ice cream and pie, take a moment to yourself to breathe, plug in the ipod, and remember a few songs that make up the holidays, by enjoying this random mash up of tracks.
Arlo Guthrie: Alice’s Restaurant
Let’s just start this article off right, with Arlo Guthrie‘s Alice’s Restaurant, the ultimate Thanksgiving song. Having just recently discovered this little gem, I felt compelled to share with you all, the world who has been missing out. Now I know, I know, it’s from 1967, so you youngins are thinking about brushing it off. But trust me-it’s a winner. It’s 18 minutes of pure hilarity, based off a true story. Plus, isn’t it still cool to know the songs that no one else knows? That’s right hipsters, this one’s for you.
R. Kelly: Trapped In The Closet
To me, R. Kelly is nothing short of a genius for the success he’s had with his Trapped In The Closet saga. It’s a guilty pleasure, sure, but beginning Thanksgiving Day, the entire series will air on IFC. (more…)