In light of the release of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a docu-series which investigates sexual abuse allegations against the artist, we asked the USF community over Twitter and email whether they would play the R&B superstar’s music at a party, or care if someone else did.
Caleb d’Oleire, Student, KUSF DJ
“If I had auxiliary (AUX) cord privileges at a party, would I play R. Kelly’s music? Never. But not for the reasons you’re thinking. I imagine ‘Trapped in the Closet’ – R. Kelly’s highly ambitious “hip hopera” project consisting of 33 different chapters with a runtime of 91 minutes – wouldn’t play well in a party setting.
Now, if someone else had AUX privileges and decided to play R. Kelly at a party, would I mind? The greater question is, am I able to separate art from the artist? When it comes to enjoying art, all that matters is how it makes you feel; that is the essence of art itself – to elicit an emotion from an audience or viewer. Art becomes problematic once it asks its viewers to sympathize with the artists’ actions. Which is where songs like ‘Bump n’ Grind’ get into hot water.”
Paul Stojsavljevic-Flores, Adjunct Instructor, Theater Department
“Hell no! I will not listen to R. Kelly. I do not listen to R. Kelly and have never been into his music. I wasn’t a fan of his music because I prefer hip-hop over R&B. I used to watch MTV in the ’90s and I learned R. Kelly was romancing Aaliyah on MTV News. It was scandalous when Aaliyah debuted in the ’90s, and that [by having a physical relationship with her], R. Kelly had committed statutory rape. Her videos had a very sensual appeal and we all knew that R. Kelly was manipulating her image too. It disgusted me that a grown man would use his fame and money to manipulate a teenage girl. I thought it was wack and I just changed the channel whenever R. Kelly’s ‘Down Low’ would come on. That was 1995-ish. He had already married Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time but lied and said she was 18. MTV knew this, but still promoted R. Kelly. I stopped watching MTV around the same time.”