R. Kelly Responds To A Year Of Accusations With Denials In 19-Minute-Long ‘I Admit’

July 24, 2018

“Today is the day you’ve been waiting for,” R. Kelly claims in an Instagram post Monday morning in which he directs his followers to listen to a new, 19-minute song titled “I Admit,” in which the singer obliquely or directly addresses allegations levied against him over the past year.

Accusations of sexual misconduct have trailed the 51-year-old singer for nearly 20 years, perhaps most prominently in a child pornography court case in Chicago. The Grammy-winning singer was acquitted in 2008, but his reputation has remained clouded.

In the new song, uploaded to SoundCloud by A&R man Julius Darrington (who did not respond to questions about the new track) and which isn’t available on Spotify, Kelly continues his practice of denying the many allegations against him except, this time, within a sprawling, stream-of-consciousness-style musical mode that recalls his 33-chapter Trapped In the Closet series.

Kelly rose to fame as an R&B singer in the ’90s through hit singles such as “Bump N’ Grind” and “I Believe I Can Fly.” As his profile increased, so did attention on his private life. In 2000, an investigative report by Jim DeRogatis and Abdon Pallasch for the Chicago Sun-Times was one of the first public accounts accusing Kelly of cultivating underage girls for sexual relationships.

“Said I’m abusing these women, what the f***? That’s some absurd s***,” Kelly sings on “I Admit.” Around the 11:35 mark, he goes on to question some of the terms used to describe his alleged relationships and “admits” to certain sexual proclivities:

What’s the definition of a cult?

What’s the definition of a sex slave?

Go to the dictionary, look it up

Let me know I’ll be here waiting

Now I admit that I got some girls that love me to pull they hair

Now I admit that I got some girls that love me to pull they hair

Now I admit that they love me to talk dirty when I pull they hair

Some like me to spank ’em

Some like to get branded

In the same verse, Kelly also references DeRogatis, saying “you been trying to destroy me for 25 whole years.”

Last year, BuzzFeed published an investigation by DeRogatis in which the reporter spoke to the parents of young women who accused Kelly of operating a “cult.” Three former members of Kelly’s “inner circle” claimed the singer controlled “every aspect” of the lives of six women living with him at the time.

A later BuzzFeed article by DeRogatis quoted Jerhonda Pace, who claimed to have begun a sexual relationship with Kelly while she was still a minor, and who furnished DeRogatis with documentation of a nondisclosure agreement she reached with the singer.

DeRogatis’ articles came months before the #MeToo movement arose from revelations of film producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged sexual misconduct.

Cancel my shows, that s*** ain’t right

— R. Kelly, “I Admit”

In the wake of DeRogatis’ reporting, several of Kelly’s concerts were canceled without explanation. Officials in Fulton County, Ga., requested cancelation of a show at a county-owned venue. The concert went on as scheduled last August, amid protests.

Turn the world against me, but only God can mute me

— R. Kelly, “I Admit”

Another indirect result of DeRogatis’ reporting was the formation of #MuteRKelly, a campaign against the singer launched by Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye that later drew a co-sign from women of color within the broader Time’s Up campaign.

In a lawsuit filed against Kelly in New York in May, Faith A. Rodgers accuses him of sexual battery, false imprisonment and failure to disclose a sexually transmitted disease. She also revealed that she had anonymously delivered evidence against him to Dallas Police in April.

A deeply reported Washington Post piece by Geoff Edgers published in May examined Kelly’s music industry relationships, finding that “disregard for the singer’s alleged behavior played out on many levels, from the billionaire record executive who first signed the dynamic young vocalist in the early 1990s to the low-paid assistants who arranged flights, food and bathroom breaks for his traveling entourage of young women.” The piece also spoke to two women, Tracy Sampson and Patrice Jones, who both said that they first met Kelly while minors and had sexual relationships with him.

Spotify, took me off they playlist

— R. Kelly, “I Admit”

Shortly after Edgers’ piece was published, Spotify announced a controversial (and since deprecated) editorial policy around “hateful conduct” by artists, through which R. Kelly was the first to be affected.

“I Admit” does, however, contain at least one notable inaccuracy:

See my work has nothing to do with my private life

If it didn’t before, it certainly does now.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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