A jury convicted R. Kelly; will his music face consequences?

NEW YORK — Will a legal conviction do to R. Kelly’s music what years of ugly allegations could not?

It is unlikely that Monday’s second of justice — when a federal jury in New York discovered the 54-year-old R&B celebrity responsible of all 9 counts in a intercourse trafficking trial — will imply a lot for his followers, given all of the terrible issues that they had realized already, some observers say.

“The lines have already been drawn,” said Jem Aswad, deputy music editor for the trade publication Variety, who has been covering R. Kelly for 20 years. “The people that are going to listen to R. Kelly’s music are still listening to it. I don’t think a guilty verdict is going to change their minds.”

Nonetheless, advocates hope the legal conviction brings an ethical reckoning.

Tarana Burke, founding father of the #MeToo motion, understands how irresistible the music of R. Kelly will be for individuals who grooved to songs like “Ignition,” but said, “People should just have a second thought about the message that it sends.”

“This generation is very clear about who R. Kelly is, right? These young people have come up with the information that this person is a perpetrator, right?” Burke said. “And if we can’t push past our personal likes and desires to dance to a song for the sake of sending a message to these little girls and little boys, at some point I’m just going to draw a line.

“I don’t want to support somebody who will cause this kind of harm in my community. I just urge people to think about that,” she continued. “Is it actually price it?”

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Kelly had lengthy managed to keep away from skilled penalties amid a long time of studies of sexual abuse of younger ladies and youngsters, from his unlawful marriage to R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994, when she was simply 15, to a 2002 arrest by which he was accused of recording of himself sexually abusing and urinating on a 14-year-old woman.

The #MeToo period and the 2019 docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly ” saw his music downgraded by streaming services and subjected to boycotts, and Kelly dropped by his label, but it still remains widely available and draws millions of weekly streams.

The Grammy winner, once called the King of R&B, has had a dozen albums reach platinum or multiple platinum status. His biggest hits include “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Bump N’ Grind.” His songs ranged from explicit to romantic, popular both in the clubs and at weddings.

The people he has worked with are a who’s who of popular music, among them Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Quincy Jones, Toni Braxton and Janet Jackson.

His popularity took a hit as allegations mounted in the past five years. His last three songs to chart on Billboard’s Hot 100 peaked in 2013, including a duet with Lady Gaga called “Do What U Want” and “PYD” with Justin Bieber. He hasn’t had a hit reach the Hot 100 since then, despite releasing two albums and several singles. He has had more success on other charts.

According to MRC Data, formerly Nielsen Music, a data provider that powers Billboard’s charts, Kelly’s airplay spins and audience dropped significantly between 2017 and 2021, and digital sales followed a similar pattern.

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However, his streaming on-demand numbers have remained about the same, averaging more than 6 million per week for most of 2021.

A group of fans who continue to back him blasted his music outside the courthouse Monday, with one shouting, “We’re not giving up on R. Kelly!”

Neither Spotify nor Apple Music responded to questions Tuesday about whether they would modify their use of R. Kelly’s music on their platforms.

Spotify has made such a move before but got pushback.

In 2018, amid the momentum of the #MeToo movement and a campaign to #MuteRKelly, the service removed his music from playlists after establishing a new policy on hate content and hateful conduct. His music was still available, but Spotify stopped promoting it.

Yet as many pointed out at the time, the history of pop, R&B and rock music is overloaded with artists who not only sexually abused underaged girls, but also celebrated it in their songs.

And legendary producer Phil Spector, whose hands are on classic hits available everywhere, was a convicted murderer.

“These sort of lines of morality are hard to draw, and Spotify found that out very quickly,” Aswad said. “You’re looking at where you draw the line. If it’s going to be, Did someone get convicted? Convicted of what? A felony? What if someone stole a car?”

However when Lifetime aired “Surviving R. Kelly” early in 2019, strikes in opposition to him have been inevitable. His RCA label dropped him, and Woman Gaga apologized for working with him and took their duet off streaming platforms.

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On the peak of Kelly’s success, Aswad stated, the fortune he amassed helped him combat the tales about him, and individuals who made cash with him made them much less more likely to abandon him.

However his funds seem to have been in critical decline. Crain’s Chicago Enterprise reported {that a} $2.9 million foreclosures was filed on Kelly’s suburban Chicago mansion in 2011, and it was auctioned off in 2013 for $950,000. The Chicago Solar-Occasions reported on the time that he owed the IRS greater than $4.8 million.

He was evicted from two Atlanta-area properties over greater than $31,000 in 2018, and the next yr he instructed a decide he couldn’t pay $161,000 in again youngster assist.

Kelly’s viewers can also be getting old, and he is unlikely to make any new music, with an extended jail sentence a risk and extra prosecutions awaiting in different states.

It could possibly be that point alone could do what convictions, allegations and boycotts couldn’t.

“I believe as generations go on, it’d get muted extra as a result of it’s going to fade into the background,” said Gail Mitchell, executive director, R&B/Hip-Hop at Billboard Magazine. “As extra generations, youthful generations come up of age, there’ll be a separation. It’ll be a bookmark that folks can entry. However the music most likely will sort of fade away.”

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Dalton reported from Los Angeles. Corridor reported from Nashville.