Demetria Lucas D’Oyley
R. Kelly at the BET Awards (Earl Gibson III/Stringer/Getty Images)
R. Kelly at the BET Awards (Earl Gibson III/Stringer/Getty Images)

(The Root) — R. Kelly performed at the BET Awards on Sunday, offering viewers a nostalgic medley of his greatest hits. The audience in the Staples Center in Los Angeles practically swooned as he sang verses from his impressive catalog of hits, including "I Wish," "Ignition" and "Seems Like You're Ready." At times, Kellz held out his microphone to the crowd to sing along, and they dutifully chimed in with the lyrics.


Despite his throat surgery in 2011, Kellz's voice sounded strong and pitch-perfect, perhaps even better than before. When it comes to entertaining, there's no question whether R. Kelly still has it. He does.

Social media went crazy with excitement and praise, with many agreeing that R. Kelly's was one of the best performances of the night (along with Charlie Wilson and rapper Kendrick Lamar featuring Erykah Badu). But among the comments about the performance, there were plenty of naysayers who dissed the singer and questioned BET's choice to feature him on the show.


In case you (impossibly) forgot, in 2002, a video surfaced that allegedly showed Kelly having sex with and urinating on an underage girl. He was charged with soliciting a minor for child pornography, seven counts of videotaping the acts and seven counts of producing child pornography. After a long delay, Kelly was found not guilty on all charges in 2008.

"So we just gonna forget this man peed on a little girl?" read the status update of a respected Facebook friend. "That's what we doin' tonight, BET? Okay. #RKelly #HideYoBabies."

She wasn't the only one outraged and unimpressed: "I'm boycotting this part of the show," another comment read. "I refuse to watch him."

In other parts of the social media world, there was a backlash to the backlash, with tweets essentially telling naysayers to "get over it."


This is the expected fallout every time Kellz performs for a wide audience. The last time it happened was in 2012 when he was called to the podium at Whitney Houston's televised funeral. There was a collective "What?" heard round the Internet.  

There was the camp of people who were surprised and excited because Kelly wasn't expected to be there, despite his having penned Houston's comeback song, "I Look to You," in 2009, which was also the title of her last album. Another camp was surprised but simultaneously clutched their figurative pearls because Kellz, a man with his history, was singing gospel music, in a church and at Houston's funeral, of all places.


And after his performance, yet another camp arose as a sort of backlash to those who weren't feeling Kellz being there, no matter how close he was to Houston or how well he sang. They wanted the naysayers to move on and respect the talent.  

It was just like what happened last night.

R. Kelly can sing, is a great entertainer and has written classics for himself and others, like Houston, Michael Jackson, Celine Deon and Luther Vandross. His list of accolades is long. Some people separate the man's music from his alleged crimes. Some people honestly don't care about his alleged acts because he made and Chocolate Factory, two of the greatest R&B albums of all time.


And some people just as passionately are not going to like Kelly no matter how great his voice or pen or performances are, because every time they see him, they think of what he allegedly did to that underage girl.

It's been 10 years since those allegations were first made, and no one's mind is changing at this point. But still we go through this cycle after every performance.


I'd say, "Enough already," but there would just be a backlash to the backlash to the backlash, adding another unnecessary step to this already cluttered cycle. So I'll just say, "Until the next performance," and watch it all happen again (and again).

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life.

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