Jalen Rose | Staff Writer
Two weeks ago, Lifetime aired a limited series titled “Surviving R. Kelly.” The series does a fantastic job of highlighting R. Kelly’s years of inflicted abuse on young black women. It efficiently exposes the manipulative behavior R. Kelly has expressed for decades.
The allegations against R. Kelly have been known for years; to the general public, none of this is new. His pedophilic relationship with the late singer Aaliyah was common knowledge and he had no issue advertising it through the title of her album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” which he produced.
But despite all of R. Kelly’s grotesque actions circulating in the media, his streaming numbers have surprisingly increased. Or perhaps, not so surprisingly. If anything, this phenomenon just solidifies the public’s compliance with this tasteless behavior as long as it comes from a celebrity.
Kelly wasn’t the first artist to receive a pass for this behavior, and he certainly isn’t the last.
Many artists today have undercome serious allegations regarding domestic violence and sexual abuse. But despite all these allegations, their fans still support them. Take, for example, the late rapper XXXTentacion.
In 2016, the rapper was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-girlfriend, Geneva Ayala. Ayala documented months of suffering from his abuse, including being brutally beaten while pregnant and locked in a room for two days. Still, XXXTentacion’s fans rallied behind him.
Even after his death the aggregation of morons commonly known as his fanbase, attempted to cement his legacy and perpetuate his “contribution” to the rap game.
Rapper Kodak Black, is currently facing trial for raping a teenage girl in 2016. These sexual misconduct allegations have (again) been known for years. But instead of having his platform revoked, he has only gained more fame.
Kodak’s most recent song “ZEZE,” featuring rappers Travis Scott and Offset, went viral. Both of the featured artists were well aware of the allegations surrounding Kodak Black and still chose to work with him. This kind of behavior is the reason why so many people feel completely irreproachable when listening to his music.
It’s easiest to observe people’s neglect of the seriousness of these accusations through “Surviving R. Kelly.” R. Kelly’s vile actions have been laid out on a timeline with irrefutable evidence and yet, people will still defend his actions. Not deny—defend. They know exactly what he’s done and fully believe his actions are worthy of defense.
People will continuously defend these problematic artists as long as they believe the quality of their music is enough to justify any wrongdoings. It’s mind-blowing that people can’t hold the lives of black women to a higher standard than music. Especially these artists’ music.
Kelly is not the “end all, be all” of R&B music. He never has been, and I promise, he never will be. “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Ignition (Remix)” are not timeless enough to forget the kind of disgusting man (pedophile) Robert Kelly is.
XXXTentacion shouldn’t be one of the top streaming artists, posthumously or not. He wasn’t the first rapper to introduce self-deprecation to the genre and he definitely wasn’t the best. If hearing a man wail about death for an entire album is enough for you to overlook the horrible accounts of abuse he inflicted on a black woman, then it’s time to evaluate your priorities in life.
And I can guarantee never listening to Kodak Black again will not be the end of the world. Honestly, you could probably call it self-care. The fact that this man gets to be a trash person while simultaneously making trash music is beyond me.
Continuing to listen to artists like these men while knowing the kinds of things they’ve done is harmful in more ways than one. Firstly, by choosing to ignore the artists’ actions, you’re invalidating the experiences of all survivors of sexual assault. Secondly, streaming these artists puts more money in their pockets which indirectly allows them to continue this behavior against more women.
There is no excuse for continuing to support problematic artists like this. You cannot plead ignorance when the facts are laid out for you. You cannot avoid blame while simultaneously funding them.
You especially cannot “forgive” these men when it was never your place to offer forgiveness.
Now is the time do better. To be better.