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
The Doggfather, born Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. is changing things up a bit with his 11th album, Reincarnated, to be released through Vice and Mad Decent some time later this year. The album title is fitting: Pitchfork is reporting that Reincarnated will consist entirely of reggae music, a first for the rapper. Broadus is even going under a different moniker for the occasion as he is recording, releasing, and performing his reggae material as Snoop Lion. Finally, stereotypical stoners everywhere will no longer be forced to choose between listening to their beloved reggae music or their beloved Snoop.
It’s unclear what inspired the rapper to wade into the world of reggae. The move is reminiscent of Nas and Damien Marley’s 2010 collaborative effort Distant Relatives. The first single to emerge from the album, “La La La,” sees Snoop acclimating himself admirably to the stylistic conventions of reggae, delivering his verses with a Jamaican inflection. One assumes that the rest of the record will be as bouncy and insistent as this first cut here, given the deft hand that producer Diplo (credited with his Major Lazer moniker here) almost certainly lent to the proceedings. While a tour has not yet been formally announced, the likelihood that you’ll be able to see Snoop Lion in action is high (snicker). The rapper cum reggae-ist will be performing with backing band The Jungle at Caribana 2012 in Toronto on Friday, August 3rd and it’s safe to assume that a full tour is in the works. A formal release date for the record has not yet been set.
Also, did you see the album art? That image is guaranteed to hang in the common areas of countless college dorms for years to come.
Check out “La La La” below.