Love for R. Kelly shrouded the disdain for a man we never knew, Robert Sylvester.
I do not watch television.
Although, I love streaming and direct to consumer videos from content creators, major broadcast television has never been my personal pastime.
However, every so often a program hits my radar and i’m glued to it like a moth to a flame. So when I found out that Lifetime was producing a series on the lengthy R. Kelly sexual abuse allegations, my curiosity took the wheel and steered me straight into the tube.
I am so glad that I watched this riveting piece of investigative journalism. Not only was it filled with testimonials from the actual survivors but it provided extreme context on a man for whom adoration comes naturally since his ballads of love and eternal hope strike at the core of humanity.
However, that body of work comes from his pseudonym, this expose detailed Robert Sylvester Kelly, a man who i’ve never known.
Undeniable Talent & Slick Branding
Being in the branding business, I understand how emotions collide with acceptance of a product. Every great brand manager, advertising executive, or marketer understands that at the core of human purchasing power lies an emotion based decision.
Robert Sylvester Kelly has dubbed himself many things: “The Pied Piper of R&B”, Kellz” and many more but his true product name is R. Kelly.
It was under this moniker that I began to believe I could fly. This character encapsulated the feeling of macaroni & cheese, collards greens, and cornbread with Step In The Name Of Love, and made me want to unleash my sexual inhibitions with the majority of his catalogue.
R. Kelly is what you get when undeniable talent meets slick branding.
You do not even think about who the person really is because the product acts like a time machine. Instantly, you are placed in a world that only you can remember just as it was. Only you can envision what true hope looks like for you and that is why he is labeled a genius.
As a result, the true genius was clouding the devil within the perfect package.
Surviving Robert Sylvester Kelly
The Lifetime docu-series profiled the now infamous Robert Sylvester Kelly child abuse and sexual misconduct allegations.
Through a series of interviews with survivors, former band members, and even his family members, the reality of who Robert Kelly really is was explored.
It was cold glass of water to the face and it showcased a larger problem with the dismissal of accusations by women of color. It is a fact that Mr. Kelly would not have gotten away with the years of abuse if he was targeting women of the general market (i.e. not descendants of the African diaspora).
However, collectively, the public victim shamed and belittled the accusations from the nameless survivors and their parents because it was hard to dismiss the musical genius of the accused.
You can still love the music of R. Kelly for what it does for you. Supporting it once you know the truth is another thing though altogether.
I am a big proponent of boycotting concerts, album sales, and more if someone violates my moral constitution. Robert Sylvester Kelly has done that with impunity and the more that I listen to his lyrics, he was virtually flaunting it to me on every riff.
As a brand manager, Robert Kelly has tarnished his brand forever with his lack of self-control and the psychosis that he is unwilling to address. I’ve heard from his wife, his mistresses, and his former friends and family and I believe them all.
No longer can he receive a pass granted from time healing old wounds and hit records salving new beginnings.
To all who are hiding in plain sight, knwo that the truth always comes out and if you are branding yourself while living falsified, eventually the world will see the true you.