For years, R. Kelly has created a divide within the R&B community. Given R. Kelly’s long list of alleged sex crimes, some have chosen to not listen to his music knowing what he's done. On the other hand, others still believe R. Kelly is a musical genius who can sing incredibly well and make some of the best R&B music ever. But does R. Kelly even know there’s a problem that exists between his fans?
In New York magazine’s latest issue, they ran a feature on R. Kelly to settle any doubt about enjoying his music. The piece, which spotlighted the upcoming release of his 13th studio album The Buffet, follows him to a private listening of the project with industry insiders and a show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In three separate interviews, the 48-year-old addresses the expectations of The Buffet, as well as his history of sexual assault accusations that recently became a hot topic again after an extensive Q&A with music journalist Jim DeRogatis ran on the Village Voice’s website.
In short, it’s a must-read. Here's some highlights:
He recorded 462 songs for The Buffet: “I have enough songs to put out six or seven albums a year if I wanted,” he says while fiddling with the track list. Despite his superhuman output, quality control is not a problem, he says, because “feedback comes to me through the people who work for me.” He admits that on a couple occasions, he’s been told that songs were duds, but he can’t recall which ones because “I’m so buried in all of the great songs that I’ve been fortunate to have out there.”
Of course, R. Kelly has heard the rumors about him: “I’m going to always have the gift along with the curse,” he says, after we’ve finished listening to his album. “I feel like I got a million people hating me, I’ve got maybe 8 million loving me. So I’ve got 9 million talking about me, and in a strange, magical way, it keeps me in the game.”
On whether fans should listen to him, knowing they are aware of his alleged past: “People need to be aware of, given the subject matter of his art, what he is really about,” DeRogatis says. “You can despise the individual and appreciate the art, fine, but you need to be aware that you’re making a conscious decision to overlook some very, very bad behavior. You’re either ignorant of what he’s been charged of, or you’ve thought it through and said, ‘That all matters less to me than his cool grooves.’ What I want is for people to at least think about it.”
At the end, R. Kelly is put through a series of tough questions about his attraction to younger women and he defends himself throughout the whole exchange. Be sure to check out the story in full here.