R. Kelly Gives a Defiant Performance in Midst of North Carolina Protests and #MuteRKelly Campaign

R. Kelly performs during the Buffet Tour at Allstate Arena on May 7, 2016, in Chicago.
R. Kelly performs during the Buffet Tour at Allstate Arena on May 7, 2016, in Chicago.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski (Getty Images)

I thought this dude was canceled.

Apparently not. And as a recent show in Greensboro, N.C., reveals, R. Kelly is still as nasty as he wanna be, with his fans there to support this accused child sexual predator and woman abuser.

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The Associated Press reports that the singer told the crowd gathered for his concert Friday night that he had “been through a lot” in recent days.

As reported by The Root, that includes a vigorous social media campaign by scores of prominent black women under the hashtag #MuteRKelly, as well as the decision by music-streaming service Spotify to drop the 51-year-old R&B singer as part of its new “Hate Content & Hateful Conduct” policy. The #TimesUp Movement has reportedly taken on R. Kelly’s case, too.

Although protesters demonstrated outside the venue against Kelly, who denies all accusations against him, Kelly reportedly thanked his supporters for continuing to “fight for me.”

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He also said that he was asked to perform a more “low key” set, but he did not take that advice, and continued to sing his sexually explicit songs—sexual-misconduct allegations against him be damned—including rubbing a fan’s smartphone between his legs and having another audience member wipe his face and crotch with a towel.

In response to his removal from Spotify, Kelly’s management released the following statement:

R. Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire. Mr. Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women. He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff. He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

DISCUSSION

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I am a lover and paid subscriber of Spotify since they came stateside in 2011, and while their decision is a Pandora’s Box of sorts, I am happy it is at least goading R. Kelly into doing or saying something stupid that will eventually get him locked up. Justice against these awful men is often years in the making, and I know that all too well personally.

Nearly a decade ago, I reported a dentist that made an inappropriate advance on me, who put his hands on me in the office building he shared with my own dentist. The NYPD and their Special Victims Division berated and interrogated me, as he was prominent dentist, and they were highly suspicious of my claims—simply because I am a male. At the time, they did a lot of nothing about it, but fast forward to last month, and guess which dentist got arrested for putting his hands on another male? 

I am unsure if it was ass-covering on the part of the NYPD, or their genuine concern, but they sent an investigator to my apartment to tell me the news a few days ago, and have the ADA apologize to me for the SVD effectively doing nothing until that dentist raped someone last month. Color me furious that same dentist was arrested in 2003 for forcible touching, and that my own claim went ignored all this time, when it could have prevented this creep from running amok.

Very long story short: justice will come eventually, but it will be bittersweet. While on the one hand, I am happy this man will no longer be a dentist, who knows how many lives were impacted because of the negligence and intransigence of the NYPD SVD in just this one case. Luckily, the newspaper of record is rightly dragging them through the mud at this very moment. Change will come to this underfunded, understaffed, and under-achieving division of the NYPD—-eventually.

Furthermore, Spotify, Apple, and the rest will most certainly make an example out of R. Kelly, because the #MeToo zeitgeist must continue to be fed to enact tangible change. He will go up in spectacular flames, he will go to prison, and Lifetime will make an appropriately ham-fisted and awful film about it, which will make the eventual purging of his back-catalog the most entertaining aspect of his career.