Timbaland Insists 'We All Know' R. Kelly Remains the 'King of R&B'

Kelly will serve 20 years behind bars on child sex crimes concurrently with a 30-year sentence for racketeering and sex trafficking.

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Timbaland still considers R. Kelly to be the R&B GOAT.

"R. Kelly's the king of R&B. We all know that, man," Timbaland said on Club Shay Shay when Shannon Sharpe started talking about separating art from controversial artists such as the now-imprisoned singer. "And it's funny, I'm glad you talk about that, because I be having talks—everybody jump when you say R. Kelly. I'm like, so we just gonna ignore his music that he gave us, that we all jam to? No, we can't do that. His art is his art, I ain't gonna bash the man's art."

The 51-year-old producer went on to add, "Don't mix music up with personal. Music is a feeling, it stands alone. Music is something that don't have no race, it brings people together. It don't have no drama with it. It is a place of enjoyment; a feeling, so don't bring drama into music. Leave that outside."

Timbaland notably made songs like "Try Again" and "One in a Million" for the late Aaliyah, who married R. Kelly in 1994 when she was 15 and he was 27.

In a 2011 episode of E!'s True Hollywood Story centered around the famed producer, Timbaland confessed he was in love with Aaliyah upon meeting her for the first time, but never acted on his feelings, given their seven-year age difference, which made him feel "old" in comparison to her.

"When I first met Aaliyah—[it's] time for the world to hear this, I'm gonna give a little secret—I was in love with her. I said, But I'm not…she just a baby, I'm old," he said. "I said to myself, 'I'm just gonna be her brother.' Oh man, I was fightin', I was fightin' a lot—a big war. But I loved Aaliyah."

The illegal marriage between R. Kelly and the "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" singer was revisited in 2021 during his racketeering and sex trafficking case, in which he received a 30-year sentence.

Brooklyn Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said at the time that prosecutors suspect Kelly married an underage Aaliyah after learning she was pregnant in an effort to avoid having her testify against him in court.

A former background dancer for R. Kelly testified in the trial that she saw the singer performing oral sex on Aaliyah, who was either 13 or 14 years old at the time, in the back of his tour bus.

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