Is a criminal punishment r. Will she work for Kelly’s music that years of ugly accusations couldn’t?
It’s unlikely that Monday’s moment of justice — when a federal jury in New York found the 54-year-old R&B superstar guilty on all nine counts in a sex trafficking trial — will mean much to his fans, all they learned. Seeing the terrible things already happen, some observers say.
For 20 years R. “The lines have already been drawn,” said Jaime Aswad, deputy music editor for Variety, the trade publication covering Kelly. “People who are going to listen to R. Kelly’s music are still listening to it. I don’t think a guilty verdict is going to change their mind.”
Still, advocates hope that criminal punishment brings a moral reckoning.
Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, understands that R. Kelly’s music can be so irresistible to those who cringe at songs like “Ignition,” but he said, “People should think again about the message it sends.”
“This generation is pretty clear who R. Kelly is, isn’t it? These youngsters have come up with the information that this person is a criminal, right?” Burke said. “And if we can’t convey our personal preferences and desires to dance to a song to send a message to these little girls and little boys, at some point I’m just going to draw a line.
“I don’t want to support someone who would do this kind of harm in my community. I just urge people to think about it,” she continued. “Is it really worth it?”
Kelly has long managed to avoid professional consequences amid reports of sexual abuse of young women and children, from his illicit marriage to R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994, when he was just 15, to a 2002 arrest in which He was charged with recording. He was sexually abusing and urinating himself with a 14-year-old girl.
The #MeToo era and the 2019 documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” saw her music downgraded and subject to boycotts by streaming services, and Kelly being dropped from her label, but it’s still widely available and millions of weekly draws the stream.
The Grammy winner, once called the King of R&B, has had a dozen albums reach platinum or multiple platinum status. His biggest hits include “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Bump N’ Grind”. His songs, outright romantic, were popular both in clubs and at weddings.
People he has worked with include Jay-Z, Lady Gaga Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Quincy Jones, Toni Braxton, and Janet Jackson.
His popularity was affected by the allegations over the past five years. Her last three songs to chart on Billboard’s Hot 100 peaked in 2013, including “Do What You Want” a duet with Lady Gaga and “PYD” with Justin Bieber. Despite having released two albums and several singles, they haven’t had any hits to the Hot 100 since then. They have had more success on other charts.
According to MRC data, formerly Nielsen Music, a data provider that powers Billboard’s charts, Kelly’s Airplay spin and viewership, decreased significantly between 2017 and 2021, and digital sales followed a similar pattern. .
However, their streaming on-demand numbers have remained roughly the same, averaging over 6 million per week for most of 2021.
A group of fans, who continue to support him, blew up his music outside the courthouse on Monday, with one shouting, “We’re not giving up on R. Kelly!”
On Tuesday, neither Spotify nor Apple Music responded to questions about whether they would modify the use of R. Kelly’s music on their platforms.
Spotify has taken such a step in the past but has received pushback.
In 2018, amid the momentum of the #MeToo movement and the campaign for #MuteRKelly, the service removed their music from playlists after instituting a new policy on hate content and hateful conduct. His music was still available, but Spotify stopped promoting it.
Yet, as many pointed out at the time, the history of pop, R&B and rock music is replete with artists who not only sexually abused underage girls, but also celebrated it in their songs.
And legendary producer Phil Spector whose hands on classic hits available everywhere was a convicted murderer.
“It’s hard to draw ethical lines like that, and Spotify found that very quickly,” Aswad said. “You see where you draw the line. If this was going to happen, was anyone convicted? Guilty of what? A felony? What if someone stole a car?”
But when Lifetime aired “Surviving Are Kelly” in early 2019, moves against him were inevitable. His RCA label dropped him, and Lady Gaga apologized for working with him and removed their duet from the streaming platform.
At the peak of Kelly’s success, Aswad said, the wealth he earned helped him fight stories about him, and the people who made money with him made him less likely to leave.
But his finances seem to have taken a serious toll. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that a $2.9 million foreclosure was filed on Kelly’s suburban Chicago mansion in 2011, and it was auctioned in 2013 for $950,000. The Chicago Sun-Times reported at the time that the IRS owed more than $4.8 million.
He was evicted from two Atlanta-area homes in 2018 for more than $31,000, and the following year he told a judge he could not pay the $161,000 in back child support.
Kelly’s audience is also getting older, and she is unlikely to make any new music, with the prospect of a longer prison sentence and more trials awaiting trial in other states.
It may be that only time can do what conviction, charge and excommunication cannot.
Gail Mitchell, executive director of R&B/Hip-Hop at Billboard Magazine, said, “I think as generations go on, it can become more muted because it will fade into the background.” There will be a separation. This will be a bookmark that people can access…
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Tarana Burke