In a BET special aired Tuesday, R. Kelly finally spoke on the not-guilty verdict in his June child-sex case. We’ve struggled, over the past year, to sort out complicated feelings regarding Kelly—his somewhat brilliant gambit to conflate his weird, (rightfully) persecuted life with his art, and vice versa; the bizarre public spectacle of debauched album after debauched album, even as he went on trial for the very same sins; the artist’s twisted plea in the court of public opinion, namely that even R. Kelly, famous pervert, has been a victim of R. Kelly’s fame.
On BET, Kelly pushed his Simpson-esque search-for-the-real-killers, Mr. Show Biz living real life as show biz, public denial as sly confession persona to new heights. “When you say teenage how old are we talking?” he asked at one point. “19? I have some 19-year-old friends but I don’t like anybody illegal if that’s what you’re talking about—underage.” It is easy to recognize this for what it is, namely, blatant, sleazy defiance of whatever conventions he already eluded when he was acquitted back in June. For “friends,” read sex partners. For “I don’t like anybody illegal,” add, “in a court of law.” This, friends, is as overt as confessions get.
Now local hero Funkmaster Flex, of HOT97, has gone on YouTube with probably the most unequivocal message from anyone in the rap community about what, for lack of a better word, a scumbag Kelly is. Flex—famous for his honesty, which is often shared over the airwaves to millions of people in remarkably direct ways—did not mince words:
“I’m here to talk about something that’s serious. I’m here to talk about dude being on the TV, talking about ‘What do you mean by teenagers?’…Let me be so specific, to tell you fam, with your funny looking Members Only jacket, and your funny beard, and the dumb Mel Brooks look you had on your face. There is an issue here cause we’re talking about little children, teenagers, kids. We’re not talking about hearsay…You were on tape fam, and you can say that’s not you on that tape, but it is…Nobody should have their daughter, or their kids around you…You are ridiculous, and you need help, and you should seek help.”
Unlike most media blowhards, Flex even has something to lose here, as far as his access to Kelly’s incredibly popular music goes. Kelly, needless to say, will not be dropping by HOT97 anytime soon. Nevertheless, Flex’s conclusion is even more damning: Kelly “was telling all of America he’s going to continue to do this, he’s been doing this, and he feels good about doing it.” You can’t say it any more plain than that.