R. Kelly is on a press tour promoting his upcoming studio album, The Buffet, and any journalist worth his or her salt will ask him to address the No. 1 controversy that has plagued his career: the idea that he was, and perhaps still is, fond of underage women.
That’s what writer David Marchese did in a piece for Vulture.
During their discussion, Kelly maintained that the rumors aren’t true.
“Do you have a sexual attraction to underage girls?” Marchese asked.
“That’s a rumor that comes from the earth, like all rumors,” Kelly said. “No. It’s not true. I love women, period. If I wasn’t a celebrity, people wouldn’t be saying these things about me.”
Marchese then asked R. Kelly why a few people who were once close to him all came out and said that they think the singer has an affinity for underage women. I’m talking close people, too, like his brother, ex-publicist, a former friend and a personal assistant.
Kelly argued that all of those people had an ax to grind with him.
“All those people have been fired by me. If you’re going to ask me these questions, you have to make sense out of it. It wasn’t until after they got fired that they said these things,” Kelly said.
Kelly then insisted that Marchese move on from the pedophilia controversy. “I got one life, and I don’t want to spend it talking about negativity. I’ve moved on. Maybe you haven’t,” he said.
Kelly also insinuated that a lot of the controversy was a result of the media kicking up dust about nothing because they need sensational stories to sell papers and ad space. “I understand the game. Get as much dirt as you can on somebody, get it all together, and make it real juicy so we can sell some papers. I understand the job you guys have to do,” he said.
There were definitely substantive allegations that deserved media coverage: his marriage to Aaliyah (who was 15 at the time) and the lawsuits filed against him by women who said their relationships with Kelly began when they were in their teens. It’s understandable why he gets annoyed when talking about all of that, but these stories are not just baseless rumors.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.