Bless her. Unathi Nkayi has called it. We can’t listen to I Believe I can Fly, nor any other R. Kelly songs, now that he’s officially a convicted sex offender. This video is no longer available. Personally, I just think she’s hurt that she’s not been asked to be on the remix of Ignition, but to each their own. While she may say, “no more philosophical bullsh** about you separating the genius from the monster", it would bode well to ask some questions. ALSO READ: R. Kelly found guilty of racketeering, sex trafficking We rarely get the opportunity to explore…
Bless her. Unathi Nkayi has called it. We can’t listen to I Believe I can Fly, nor any other R. Kelly songs, now that he’s officially a convicted sex offender.
This video is no longer available.
Personally, I just think she’s hurt that she’s not been asked to be on the remix of Ignition, but to each their own.
While she may say, “no more philosophical bullsh** about you separating the genius from the monster”, it would bode well to ask some questions.
ALSO READ: R. Kelly found guilty of racketeering, sex trafficking
We rarely get the opportunity to explore the idea of separating the art from the artist, and when we do, it’s a generally simple split.
When The Spear painting hit all the headlines in 2010, we directed whatever emotions we had at the artist, Brett Murray. Some excess may have overflowed to the Goodman Gallery, but the point is that it was easy to direct.
We didn’t waste time trying to identify who sold him the paint, the canvas or otherwise enabled him, because it didn’t really matter. Is it the same when it comes to music?
The subject of playing the music is a far more testy issue. You know that sinking feeling whenever you see a government party and angrily mutter under your breath that it was your tax money that paid for that party?
That same sinking feeling can be felt by a fellow listener feeling like listening to R. Kelly is supporting him, and that’s because even in the smallest way, it’s kinda true.
Every time a song plays on air, the station owes the copyright holder a couple of bucks through a royalty collection agency (typically Samro in South Africa), and therefore choosing to jam to R. Kelly’s music actually puts money in his pocket.
That’s no more a matter of just enjoying the music. It’s a matter of financially supporting the convict. So it would be easy to just cut R. Kelly from the playlists on the strength of that, right? Wrong!
While R. Kelly is the singer and no doubt has a stake in the royalties, it’s a near certainty that he’s not the only one with a vested interest in his catalogue.
There will be producers, labels, session musicians, writers, and a whole string of people who are financially linked to the music getting airplay and use. Most of those people have never been charged, let alone convicted.
So for Unathi to try underplay the “philosophical bullsh**” is just disingenuous, and coming from a music and radio background, she should probably know that.
This video is no longer available.
I do empathise though. For a society so desperate to right the ship when it comes to violence against women, we do lack any concrete action points.
Obviously this has turned into opportunity for those who want to be seen to be taking it seriously to make a noise about it as much as possible. I’m pretty sure R. Kelly won’t miss the 200 bucks that may have come from him getting airtime in South Africa, and even if you totalled it up globally, he’s made his cash.
It’s the people with the fractions that get hit. It’s the ones who worked an entire career to get in the room to play piano on a star’s track, and it just happened that the label paired them with R. Kelly.
While one could simply just ignore them to show our rage at R. Kelly’s heinous crimes, one shouldn’t. Being punished for the crimes of another, even as collateral damage, is not exactly the society we should strive for.
I’m not one to tell judges how to make decisions, but life would be a lot easier if we could be more creative on how we punish predators. Maybe if we could get a little philosophical, allowing people to enjoy the music but having the proceeds go to charities or victims would be far better than just shutting it out.
If a judge ordered that every royalty owed to R. Kelly henceforth goes to a survivor support fund, I can confidently predict it will be the first time in a long time we heard “hot and fresh out the kitchen” for all the right reasons, and for the right causes.
It’s just too simple to avoid a philosophical conversation because we’re pretending like we’re making a difference.
Pretending like the music never existed does not undo the damage. Using the existing music to address issues may be a better approach.