Before I begin, let me just take my Feminist card out of my Louis and plunk it right on the figurative table. *Pushes it away, toward the center* Surely, you’ll want to revoke my card before you get to the end of this essay, and I’m fine with that. So there you go, it’s easier for you to nab.
Proudly wearing this metaphoric “F” on my ruffled dress has kept me too PC among some of the feminazis, as Limbaugh likes to call us. This has kept me from speaking from the crazy part of my mind where all the inappropriate, “feminists aren’t supposed to say that!” thoughts have been kept for too long. Today, I remove one from the vault:
I never stopped liking R. Kelly’s music.
Yes, I’m a self-respecting Black woman, even though you may argue otherwise. No, I wouldn’t leave anyone’s non-adult kids, certainly none in my charge, and not even the offspring of the people who will call me names in the comments section, alone with him. I wouldn’t protest outside a courthouse to “Free R. Kelly” like some Black women did when he was on trial. But you tell me Kellz is performing at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn this fall, and I might just sleep out overnight like they’re selling Jordans up in there.
There’s a reason that the “King of R&B” moniker never stuck when Whitney Houston (RIP) tried to anoint her husband with it to appease his ego: it’s a title best held by R. Kelly. He’s sold 50 million albums worldwide, and is one of just 1,2,3,4, 5— boom!— Black people to make the RIAA’s list of the best-selling people in the United States. Last year, Billboard named him the most successful R&B artist of the last 25 years. He’s got three Grammys for the same dang song (“I Believe I Can Fly”), and as proof of his songwriting skills, that long list of superstars he’s written for is always trotted out (Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Celine Deon, Luther Vandross and more). But honestly? It’s everything on TP2.com from the opening lines (if you were in college anytime between 1994-2002 you know what they are) to “Feelin’ on Your Booty”, “When A Woman’s Fed Up” and “Ignition” that make him one of my favorite entertainers.
Until recently, I had not thought all that much about Kelly, had not played his music in I dunno how long, but I thought of him yesterday after watching that YouTube video of Brian McKnight where he dabbled in making an “adult mixtape”—allegedly a joke— and sang of promising to show a woman how her— wait for it — “pussy works”. I wrote about this song for The Root and called it McKnight’s attempt to “drive 120mph down the musical lane R. Kelly abandoned.”