Jim DeRogatis: May 2008 Archives

R. Kelly's "Freak Show"

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Adding fuel to the argument that the R&B superstar views his current legal battle in part as one more opportunity to hype his new music, Kelly has leaked a second song from "12 Play: Fourth Quarter," scheduled for release in July. The title, appropriately enough: "Freak Show."

"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.

Re-read in light of the current trial, this 1995 interview with the R&B giant seems oddly prescient and very relevant in 2008. It was conducted just as "You Are Not Alone," the single Kelly penned for Michael Jackson, became the first building block in helping that star reclaim his own career from the taint of a sex scandal involving a young boy. Said Kelly:

People need to not judge what they see on the TV. Nobody knows Robert or what he's been through. Not R. Kelly, but Robert. R. Kelly is a thing on TV.

I really love Marvin Gaye, and his albums were pretty sexual. I've read things in old magazines where people had things to say about him. But people are forgetting there's an artist, there's a creative situation, not just this freak. You've got to ask yourself, how can this same guy turn around and write `You Are Not Alone?'

I've experienced (controversy), maybe not on Michael's level, but on my own level. And you've got to think, `If I was a nobody and nobody knew me, nobody could talk about me.'

The full story as it originally ran some six and a half year before Kelly's indictment on child porn follows the jump.

Remembering Aaliyah

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Timed, coincidentally or not, to the start of the R. Kelly trial, the New York music magazine The Fader has published its annual "icon issue," with this year's cover story paying homage to Brooklyn-born, Detroit-raised Aaliyah Dana Haughton.

Links to the controversial R. Kelly video

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Here and here.

No, it's not THE video at the heart of the case. But with the trial of the mega-selling R&B superstar finally getting underway, it's revealing to revisit how the brilliant cartoonist Aaron McGruder imagined the trial of R. Kelly in his short-lived animated series of "The Boondocks."

R. Kelly on trial

The story of the allegations against R. Kelly started here in the Sun-Times. Almost six years later, it's now finally reached a trial.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Jim DeRogatis in May 2008.

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