• Brian Hampton

Part II: Should You Continue To Listen To R. Kelly's Music?

R. Kelly is not the first man to date underage women. Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Simmons, Elvis Presley, Diddy, Drake, and many more have done so. None of them were met with the same conviction as R. Kelly.


It does not make it right for any of them but the aforenamed have not been “canceled” so why cancel R. Kelly? He is a musical genius, that is undeniable, it is good in him, he did create “I Believe I Can Fly,” a respectable gospel album “U Saved Me,” and many other beloved classics. The music can be separated from the person as many people do with Kanye, right?


I will answer that with an anecdote. I was out to brunch with a good friend of mine. We were having a great time at a restaurant we have never been to that is popular for brunch in DC. All of a sudden, her mood changed, and she said, "they shouldn't be playing this shit." She was abused and hearing an R. Kelly song which may have been “Step in the Name of Love” or one of his classics was a trigger.


I went to tell the manager to play the next song, but she insisted I did not. She was unwilling to cause a bigger scene and further continue the suppressed memory which coexists with so many emotions that were just brought to light from hearing an R. Kelly song. So, she just ignored the song and we continued where we left off though I know that was hard to do.


DJs, program managers, and anyone controlling music to the masses, whether at a house party or a club should mute R. Kelly. My friend or anyone should not have to relive a traumatic experience while at brunch, at the club, or anywhere.


If you want to listen to R. Kelly in your own space who am I to stop you? I have not listened to R. Kelly in years before the documentary because of him as a person. Some people can separate the art from the person. There are people who still watch the Cosby show, have OJ Simpson jerseys, listen to Fabolous’ and Chris Brown’s music, etc. Those people have also done terrible things, though people pick and choose whom they mute based on their experiences.


A person that has experienced domestic violence is less likely to listen to Chris Brown or Fabolous though someone who was an abuser or does not think domestic violence is an egregious offense is likely to continue to listen to the music.


It is important to let people have an opinion without getting upset even if you do not agree with it. In this climate of hate, everyone must agree and if you do not you are cast into cancellation island. That’s wack, adults can agree to disagree.


If Da Brat wants to play R. Kelly that is her prerogative. If R. Kelly seeks help and is reprimanded for his alleged criminal acts I would listen to his music again. I would have to feel he is genuinely apologetic and not just doing this because his career is dying.


It would be hard to believe though since he had years to change his behavior and get the serious help he needs. Maybe this is the rock-bottom Robert needs to hit to admit to his alleged wrongdoings. I am not God, if I felt R. Kelly was remorseful I would forgive and listen to his music again…privately.


I agree with Erykah Badu in that R. Kelly is in need love and help. If this was a family member we would not agree with and be horrified by R. Kelly’s actions, but most would not hate your family member. You would pray they receive the help and love them despite their transgressions.