R. Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct for years. He illegally married Aaliyah when she was 15, and parents have accused him of brainwashing their daughter as part of a sex cult. In 2017, the #MuteRKelly campaign began, spurring efforts to remove the singer’s music catalog from streaming services. The campaign, co-founded by Atlanta-based activists Kenyette “Tish” Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, called on companies and concert-goers to stop supporting his tours.
But Kelly continues to put on live shows and make music. On Monday, he released a 19-minute-long song entitled “I Admit.”
“Today is the day you’ve been waiting for,” Kelly tweeted, with a link to the song on Soundcloud.
Structured as a confessional, the song is more of a defense of his behaviors and accusations against him.
Throughout the track, Kelly accuses “haters” of trying to destroy his career. “You may have your opinions, entitled to your opinions,” he sings. “But really am I supposed to go to jail or lose my career because of your opinion.”
He sings “they tryna lock me up like Bill” — presumably a reference to comedian Bill Cosby, who was convicted earlier this year on three counts of sexual assault.
Kelly has been accused of abusing women and having sexual relations with underage girls throughout his career, which began in the early 1990s.
He has settled several sexual and physical abuse lawsuits and in 2008 was acquitted of child pornography. The girl in the video that led to the high-profile trial — and her parents — declined to testify.
The years of settlements and other allegations received new attention after journalist Jim DeRogatis — who has chronicled Kelly’s alleged behavior for years — published a 2017 BuzzFeed story in which former girlfriends and others painted a portrait of a celebrity who controls the movements and lives of a group of live-in sexual partners. The parents of one of the girlfriends, who has said she is doing fine, told police their daughter is being held against her will and is a part of a “cult.”
In May, Washington Post reporter Geoff Edgers detailed how the music industry turned a blind eye to Kelly’s behavior for decades.
Kelly has long denied the allegations.
Earlier this year, Time’s Up Women of Color joined the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for RCA Records to drop the singer from its label. Kelly’s team called the effort “a public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
Reporter Jim DeRogatis: “To Jim DeRogatis, whatever your name is/You been tryna destroy me for 25 whole years,” he sings. “Off my name, you done went and made yourself a career/But guess what? I pray for you and your family, and all my other enemies.”
Time’s Up: “They don’t want me to shine, women’s group, my god / Now don’t get it twisted, I do support ’em, but why they wanna bring down the R.”
John Legend and Tom Joyner: “They’re doing good in their lives right now, why would they wanna tear down another brother,” Kelly sings.
Joycelyn Savage’s parents, who have accused the singer of controlling her: “Don’t push your daughter in my face, and tell me that it’s okay/’Cause your agenda is to get paid, and gettin’ mad when it don’t go your way.”