Kendrick Lamar’s new album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers sparked a debate about the quality of R. Kelly’s music shortly after its release. On the track “We Cry Together,” Kendrick and Taylour Paige are having a fictional argument in which Paige says, “You the reason Harvey Weinstein had to see his conclusion/You the reason R. Kelly can’t recognize that he’s abusive.”
Kendrick fires back, “Man, shut the fuck up, we all know you still playin’ his music/Said I’m tired of these emotional-ass, ungrateful-ass bitches/Fake innocent, fake feminist, stop pretendin’/Y’all sentiments ain’t realer than what you defendin’.”
The debate kicked into high gear after someone tweeted, “I wish y’all would stop saying everybody listens to R. Kelly music secretly like no we don’t. I promise you the music isn’t that good.”
I wish y’all would stop saying everybody listens to R. kelly music secretly like no we don’t ??? i promise you the music isn’t that good
— ً (@zayoIogy) May 13, 2022
The reactions quickly poured in, with many defending R. Kelly’s discography and pointing to numerous solo hits such as “Ignition (Remix),” “Bump n’ Grind,” “Step in the Name of Love” and “I Believe I Can Fly.”
Some people also noted he’s also produced big songs for a laundry list of artists, including Aaliyah, B2K, Diddy, Toni Braxton, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Nick Cannon, Ginuwine, The Isley Bros., Whitney Houston, Usher, Chris Brown and Justin Bieber.
But with all of R. Kelly’s success, the embattled R&B singer couldn’t save himself. In September 2021, Kelly was convicted of sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, racketeering and sex trafficking involving five victims.
Fourteen underlying acts associated with the racketeering charge padded the case, and the jury found the government had proven 12 of those acts involving the late Aaliyah, a woman only identified as Stephanie, Jerhonda Pace, Jane and another woman named Stephanie. Three acts connected to an alleged victim named Sonja couldn’t be proven, but the government only needed proof of two of the racketeering acts for a guilty charge.
Kelly had been on trial in Brooklyn federal court for over a month on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, a federal law addressing sex trafficking. Kelly also faces a second federal trial on charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice in Illinois.
He’s juggling several other outstanding criminal charges in both Cook County, Illinois and Minnesota as well. In Illinois, he was indicted by the state attorney in February 2019 for aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims (three of them minors) and in Minnesota, he charged with engaging in prostitution with a minor in August in 2019. R. Kelly faces a possible sentence of 10 years to life in prison. His sentencing date has been moved from May 4 to June 16.