The opposite of Ignition (reappraising R. Kelly)

R. Kelly’s music used to (and still does) ignite parties.

Now it ignites heated debates between discerning party patrons. And for good reason.

His earliest songs — the ones from his classic album 12 Play — don’t help.

  • “I like the crotch on you”
  • “Bump N Grind”
  • “It Seems Like You’re Ready”

Anytime I hear them now I get the shivers and it ain’t sexy. Hear me out. They’re bangers. But the rumours have smudged my love for the music. I get creeped out when R. Kelly’s music enters my head. And I’m left with one thought.

What do we do when persistent allegations or vile behaviour taint our most revered artists?

I love Lethal Weapon but despite Mel Gibson. His rants about jews and blacks didn’t stop Mark Walhberg or Will Farrell from working with him. And people went to see Daddy’s Home 2. It made more than $110 million.

I used to lecture a friend about Roman Polanski almost every time we met. Then again, I had no problem calming my daughter with Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall.

Many black people adore Bill Cosby. But I will never again ask my wife to complement my Cosby Halloween costume, which consisted of a sweater and catchphrases, with a tray of jell-o shooters. I won’t.

The answer to my question isn’t black and white. It’s many shades of gray and depends on the place and the people.

On New Year’s Eve I was at party with many feminists, including myself. R. Kelly came on and we all looked at each other, wondering who wasn’t creeped out.

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