R. Kelly dropped his latest hyper-sexualized album Black Panties last week, with songs titled “Marry The Pussy,” “Show Ya Pussy,” and “Crazy Sex.” Arguably, he's obsessed with sex, and expresses that through such carnal imagery that it can’t help bring up memories of Kelly’s very public trial on charges of child pornography. But strangely, or perhaps expectedly, given how these stories tend to get buried in lieu of more recent popular success, that sordid story has largely disappeared from the discussion of Kelly’s music.
Over the summer, leading up to Kelly’s headlining performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival, Sound Opinions co-host and former Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis ran a series entitled “The Kelly Conversations,” where he discussed at length the modern context of the story that has defined his career as a journalist: reporting on the initial court documents in 2002 alleging Kelly abused underage girls, and receiving the subsequent video tape of an assault that led to the trial from an anonymous source.
Now Jessica Hopper has a lengthy interview with DeRogatis for The Village Voice, covering the history of the case and the litany of sexual assault allegations levied against R. Kelly beginning over a decade ago. The details are appropriately described as “stomach-churning,” and the predatory nature of the evidence against the singer is dumbfounding at best and terrifying at worst. (The final page includes all of the original reporting on the case from the Sun-Times.) DeRogatis makes many astute observations and Hopper asks all the right questions—with both pointing out that this story has been championed by a few voices for years, but has mystifyingly never found traction even after Kelly’s acquittal. At this moment, as Kelly enjoys continued success with a new album and new projects on the way, this is a tremendous piece of journalism.
The debate over Kelly’s actions will rage on ad infinitum. But the Sun-Times' reporting has never been questioned—and the paper was never sued for any part of the investigation—which lends a startling amount of credence to the allegations even as Kelly continues to add chapters to Trapped In The Closet.