Do we Put R. Kelly’s Music Away Right Along with Him?

As I was riding the train the other day, I was struggling to find something to listen to when I stumbled upon a hip-hop/r&b playlist of ’07 hit tracks. As expected, there was some Kanye and Rihanna on there along with 50 Cent, The-Dream and more. But who I was most surprised to see on there was R. Kelly. And not because he didn’t have hits in 2007 but well…because most would expect that he would be banned from all ears at this point.

Accusations against R. Kelly are quickly accumulating and unfortunately the lid can no longer hold down the steam. With so many women speaking out, many are wondering if this is someone they want to keep supporting. But the question of the matter is: do the recent accusations discredit R. Kelly’s entire discography?

I found myself asking that question in my mind while I battled on whether I wanted to listen to that one R. Kelly song on that playlist. “Am I supporting a sexual predator?” “Is it wrong if I still like his music?” “Can everybody hear his voice coming through my headphones?”

Yes, I definitely wondered the last question. See, the embarrassment of listening to any R. Kelly track was strong, especially with so many people reading about what was going on. But then I thought about a discussion I recently had with a colleague of mine. Their exact words were: “When ‘Step in the Name of Love’ comes on at a party, you’re not going to walk off the dance floor. You’re going to keep on with your two step.” And he wasn’t wrong.

R. Kelly’s indiscretions aren’t going to make him less talented or his songs less of a hit. Though his fame has allowed him to take advantage of situations more than an a normal individual could, should his music really be banned? Should we take “I Wish” from the young kids that look to it for inspiration? Or should we tell schools to stop playing “I Believe I Can Fly” at graduations? The logical answer to all of these questions is NO.

The music that R. Kelly has created over the years has helped many through break ups, parties get started, relationships grow stronger and more. “Bump n’ Grind” alone probably helped make many of you reading this. And though “Trapped in the Closet” might make you cringe, you can’t deny the creativity behind it. All I’m saying is, R. Kelly is a major staple in R&B. To ban access to his music or judging those that listen to it is like erasing a piece of music history.

Now, in no way, shape or form is this condoning what R. Kelly is being accused of BUT what I am saying is: be realistic. There is no way you’re walking out of a party when “Fiesta” comes on. And if you decide to, you’ll most likely be missing out on a really good party.

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