"Not even looming porn trial can slow down R. Kelly's career," read the headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune Monday, the day jury selection started.
In the article itself, rock critic Greg Kot was more qualified: "Sex scandals have ruined or derailed countless pop-star careers, as Michael Jackson, George Michael, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry would attest. But R. Kelly’s career has remained robust."
The facts are, however, that Kelly's album sales have significantly decreased since his indictment in June 2002. Let's look at the numbers.
Before the indictment:
"Born into the '90s" (1992): Certified platinum (1 million copies sold).
"12 Play" (1993): Certified 5 x platinum.
"R. Kelly" (1995): Certified 7 x platinum.
"R." (1998): Certified 8 x platinum.
"TP-2.com" (2000): Certified 4 x platinum.
Concurrent with the indictment:
"The Best of Both Worlds" with Jay-Z (2002): Certified platinum.
After the indictment:
"Chocolate Factory" (2002): Certified 2 x platinum.
"The 'R' in R&B Collection Volume 1 (2002): Certified 3 x platinum.
"Happy People"/"U Saved Me" (2004): Certified 3 x platinum.
"The Best of Both Worlds: Unfinished Business" with Jay-Z (2004): Certified platinum.
"TP3: Reloaded" (2005): Certified platinum.
"Double Up" (2007): Certified platinum.
What do the numbers reveal?
Kelly released five albums that sold a combined 25 million copies before the indictment.
Kelly has released seven albums (one of those a best-of collection) concurrent with or after the indictment, with a combined total of 11 million copies sold.
The argument that Kelly's musical career has been unscathed by the child porn charges—as the Tribune, the New York Times, and several other publications have contended—simply doesn't fly, even if you want to believe it.