For years, R. Kelly was one of the big names in R&B. His hits like ‘Bump N’ Grind’, ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ and ‘Ignition (Remix)’ made him an international superstar with legions of fans all over the world.
But the singer has also been dogged by persistent claims of sexual misconduct dating back to the 1990s. And in the age of #MeToo, even more allegations have surfaced, which are being taken more seriously than ever.
A #MuteRKelly campaign was even set up to limit his business dealings and air-play. Spotify and Apple Music ultimately removed the singer from their playlists.
Now the singer has faced his critics by producing a bizarre 19-minute song, released on SoundCloud, called ‘I Admit’.
Here’s everything you need to know about the track…
What are the accusations against R. Kelly?
Kelly, 51, was first accused of impropriety in 1994 when he reportedly married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah when he was 27 years old. The marriage was quickly annulled once Aaliyah’s family found out, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
He also faced an accusation of a sexual relationship with 15-year-old Tiffany Hawkins in 1996, according to CNN, and in 2002 he was indicted on child pornography charges. The first case was settled out of court and the latter went to trial in 2008 but he was acquitted.
More recently the singer was the focus of Buzzfeed article last year that alleged R. Kelly was holding adult women against their will in a “cult,” something Kelly’s lawyer denied.
What is the song and what does he say in the lyrics to ‘I Admit’?
The 51-year-old singer posted a link to the track ‘I Admit’ on Twitter, saying: “Today is the day you’ve been waiting for.”
In the song he admitted having sexual relationships with “young ladies” but denied he was a paedophile, according to Ebony.
I admit I f*ck with all the ladies, that’s both older and young ladies (ladies, yeah) / But tell me how they call it paedophile because that shit is crazy (crazy) / You may have your opinions, entitled to your opinions (opinions) / But really am I supposed to go to jail or lose my career because of your opinion / Yeah, go ahead and stone me, point your finger at me (stone me, yeah, yeah) / Turn the world against me, but only God can mute me (against me, mute me).
He also hit back at the claims he was running a sex “cult.”
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. Say I’m abusing these women. What the fuck? That’s some absurd shit. They brainwashed, really? Kidnapped, really? Can’t eat, really? Real talk that shit sounds silly.
Kelly went on to say he was molested as a child.
Now, I admit a family member touched me (touched me, touched me, touched me) / From a child to the age 14, yeah / While I laid asleep, took my virginity (sleep, gini’).
He also claimed that he cannot read, something recently revealed by talk show host Wendy Williams.
I admit I can’t spell for shit I admit that all I hear is hits (ohh) / I admit that I couldn’t read the teleprompter when the Grammy’s asked me to present.
What’s been the reaction to the song?
Much of the reaction on Twitter seemed to criticise the singer for apparently failing to take responsibility.
“His lack of self-awareness is atrocious,” said hip hop artist Talib Kweli Greene.
But not everyone was so harsh.
You can listen to the song in full below.