More Fans Should Be Outraged by R. Kelly’s New Album Cover

An NBA veteran, and father, explains why the half-naked girl sitting on R. Kelly’s lap doesn’t sit well with him—and shouldn’t with you, either.


Pay attention to his lyrics, and it appears as though not only is Kelly bragging about what he’s alleged to have done, but he’s also giving a big middle finger to anyone who questions why he loves “these girls” or whoever might try to stop him.

Nothing, especially an album cover, happens by accident. Which makes me wonder if this particular photo was like a sick advertisement, intended to sell a fantasy to young girls that they could be with someone like him.

This doesn’t sit well with me as a father. And knowing that Kelly also has two daughters—now ages 13 and 15—makes the whole thing even more disturbing.

Sex sells. We can’t deny that. But in this case, what responsibility do we have to the greater society?

It’s bad enough that our youth are constantly bombarded with negative images. But the kind of imagery that Kelly promotes isn’t just the ordinary kind of poison that we find in our popular culture. The Black Panties album cover takes it to another level. How will fans feel if, for instance, in a few years another underage girl comes forward with new allegations?

Simply put, why does R. Kelly get a pass?

He’s one of the most successful R&B artists of our time. But if fans keep supporting him by buying his records and helping him sell out arenas, does that mean that we’ve become a society of Joe Paternos, enabling someone to continue to parade and promote something that we all find despicable?

Does that make us the proverbial “good men” 18th-century Irish statesman Edmund Burke reportedly spoke of, who sit by and do nothing and are, therefore, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil”?

Regrettably, the answer to all of these questions appears to be yes.

Etan Thomas is an NBA veteran and the author of Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge. Follow him on Twitter.