For a long time, we thought that Robert Sylvester Kelly, that’s his name in civil status, was a nice guy, without trouble. But on June 29, 2022, a “tease” – Don’t be offended; in prison slang, it refers to the judge – of the New York Federal Court ruled: the 55-year-old rapper risks spending the rest of his life in jail. He just took 30 years.
Episodes of a fall
R. Kelly was not a convicted offender. He did not have a garage bill, a loaded record. We had never established a connection between him any gang. Just a couple of things, pretty mundane in the life of a black American rapper. So! How did we get here?
The man’s legal troubles began in December 2000. A great investigation report, damning, the pin: he would have had sex with the singer Tiffany Hawkins then 15 years old. But his lawyers are tenacious. They exonerate him. Two years later, he’s charged with child pornography. In March 2003, a video in which the singer urinates on a miner goes around the world. The garbage! But, as if by magic, the American justice acquits her. Even with the evidence in front of them. In 2018, with the MeeToo movement, the story resurfaces. A real feminist revolution. Every woman has to “drop a pig” into the media pit. R. Kelly happens to be the pig that comes back into the mouths of many women. The tongues loosen. The storm breaks. The rapper will not have time to take cover.
Surviving R. Kelly, the cataclysmal doc
“Surviving R. Kelly” is a smashing documentary. When it came out in 2019, it was a buzz; R. Kelly got it all. Everyone fell on him. For the man who sang, “I believe, I can fly”, the return to reality will be hard. The rapper is described by his victims as a “sexual predator”. By the prosecutor’s office as “reckless”, “manipulative”. RCA Records, his label that remained faithful to him until then, let him down. Around him, everything collapses. The singer wants to restore his image. He gives a mind-boggling interview to CBS: he freaks out in front of the whole world. This loss of self-control condemns him in the eyes of the public. It is Icarus who burns his wings.
R. Kelly bites the dust, the fall of a star
During the trial, and even at the announcement of the verdict, R. Kelly never “collapsed”, he confessed nothing of the sagouineries that were reproached to the end. Several people, victims of the rapper, young people, at the time of the events, were heard. Apparently when he appeared in court that day, wearing dark glasses, a black mask and his gorgeous khaki top, he did not expect that verdict. Maybe he thought he was getting away with it. The prosecution charged him with nine counts. We won’t list them all, but the most important one was: trafficking in human beings for the purpose of abuse. Clearly, if R. Kelly’s crimes have been ignored so far, it is evidence that there has been an emotional shift and decades of moral and political transformation to bring us to this point.