Real Talk On R. Kelly And Yeasayer
Earlier this week, an interview conducted by one of my co-workers with the band Yeasayer went up on Rolling Stone. In said interview, Yeasayer singer Chris Keating said some muddled and possibly objectionable things about ’90s R&B vs. Frank Ocean. RS recognized this fact, making their headline “Yeasayer: ‘Let’s Gay It Up a Little’ in R&B.” Because, if you’ve got a quote like that you’re remiss not to make it the lead in the land where Twitter headlines are what make anyone read your articles.
If you’re not familiar with their work, here’s a track from their album which comes out on Tuesday.
Anyway, this lead to a post from Village Voice music blog, Sound of the City, that is so muddled I’m not sure I get the point. Are we celebrating R. Kelly? Making fun of Yeasayer? Rebuking Yeasayer for their cultural insensitivity — and in that case is the insensitivity towards ’90s R&B or gay people the main problem for the writer? It’s unclear to me.
What is clear is that this writer really wants R. Kelly to be in on the joke. She insists on it repeatedly. What becomes clear to me is, this person knows nothing of R. Kelly.
When I was working at MTV both the video tape of Kells peeing on an underaged girl and the “Trapped In The Closet” sagas happened. Not long after I started, Aaliyah died in that terrible plane crash. I’ve had a little first hand experience with the media reaction, actually in the day & time, and I’ve been up close and personal with marketing R. Kelly.
The first thing I can assure you of is that Kells takes that “Trapped In The Closet” shit seriously. We had him on the VMAs, where he play acted/lip synched it and revealed a new chapter in 2005. Every time that performance was discussed, in advance of the show, in the music & talent department meetings someone (half of the time it was me) would have to ponder aloud, “Is this for real?” Oh it’s for real. Notice how he never breaks while performing it. There’s no b-roll of him laughing. R. Kelly is not Andy Kaufman, pulling one over on the audience. He’s not even Andy Warhol. He may be aware of people finding his work humorous, but he’s still fucking serious when he creates it. He is advancing entertainment. He is taking us places we’ve never been. It’s not a joke. He is not laughing with us. If you don’t get that, you don’t know R. Kelly.
The second thing I’d like to address is the Aaliyah/Kells connection, because the writer of the Voice piece brings it up citing his professional involvement with her. But girl, your timeline is off. Mr. Yeasayer is talking Aaliyah circa ‘97-98 (well probably really meaning her 1996 album and then the “Are You That Somebody” soundtrack song from ‘97) which would be when she was on the Missy Elliot/Timbaland tip. He’s complimenting Timbaland’s production, which you should have totally shouted him out for since he’s so against pop music and EDM. R. Kelly isn’t anywhere on that album. Kells was involved with Aaliyah from about ‘92-95. They met when she was 13 and got married, Elvis and Prescilla style. And that’s when “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number” happened. When she was 15 and he was 25. That is not normal.
So really, you’re going to defend Kells, the dude who married a teenage Aaliyah and peed on some girl in a sex tape, against the slings and arrows of the singer of Yeasayer who feels maybe it’s time we gay it up in R&B? Screw that. Maybe it is time we gay it up. R. Kelly’s message isn’t just funny sex songs. And if Yeasayer bro feels like he shouldn’t be forgiven for that, he’s in line with a lot of women who feel Chris Brown shouldn’t be forgiven for beating the shit out of Rihanna. It’s a bad look for women everywhere. But if this writer feels we should all get over it now, great. She can be the first to line up to absolve Ike Turner too for all I care.
P.S. - we were ALL surprised when Bey & Jay started showing up at indie rock shows. Don’t pretend you weren’t. And we all know it’s Solange’s doing.
P.P.S - there were a lot of mentions of ’90s R&B in the response article when really a large amount of the material discussed, especially by Kells, was released in the 2000s.
7 Notes/ Hide
- jumonz likes this
- arielzambelich reblogged this from watercutter
- watercutter reblogged this from thecourtneyesmith and added:
- slug-bait likes this
- uglymyfanwy likes this
- shaftpnk likes this
- sueapfe likes this
- thecourtneyesmith posted this