Sunday, de Blasio—who's apparently considering hopping into the already exhausting 2020 POTUS race—visited a church down in South Carolina and was ultimately met with a rendition of Kelly's 1996 Space Jam soundtrack hit "I Believe I Can Fly." As widely circulated footage of the moment shows, de Blasio can be seen briefly flapping and generally flailing his arms about in a vague flying motion before nodding his head to the performance.
As for the central question in Gross' tweet above, de Blasio's office has since released a statement claiming he did indeed not know the artist behind the song. "The Mayor wasn't the church's DJ and he certainly can't be expected to recognize every R. Kelly track," spokesperson Eric Phillips told the New York Post Sunday.
Still, de Blasio's mid-Kelly song flapping of the arms has been criticized for its inadvertent tone deafness. The church itself has also been slammed, with some questioning why the track was performed at all. Others, however, have folded the de Blasio faux pas into a larger conversation about Kelly:
Among the more recent development in the Kelly proceedings, which have been revived in recent months in the wake of the Surviving R. Kelly documentary, are a series of Gayle King interviews that premiered across multiple days on CBS last week. Notably, Timothy Savage—the father of Joycelyn Savage, who says she's in a relationship with Kelly—denied the singer's claims that they had met in person. He also called for Kelly to "rot in that jail cell, period."
Kelly and his legal team, meanwhile, have denied the allegations against the singer, including involvement in reported videos that allege to show him engaging in sexual acts with underage girls.