Two new women have added their names to the list of those accusing R. Kelly of sexual assault and harassment. Asante McGee and Kitti James both appeared on Megyn Kelly Todaythis morning to share their stories of their time spent with the singr, who was revealed to be running a cult-like sex dungeon in a viral BuzzFeedexposé.
James shared that she’d lived with Kelly in his Chicago home for two years while the two were engaged in a romantic relationship, and that during that time she’d needed to obtain permission from him to pursue even the most banal of tasks.
“I had to wear sweatpants,” she explained. “I had to stand up when he would walk into a room. I had to be on his phone plan. He would put a lot of his girlfriends on his phone plan so he could control who you were talking to, how often you talked to your family, what you were texting, things like that.”
Even bodily functions were off limits without the all-clear.
“You would have to send a text message to one of his runners, just asking if you could go to the restroom, and they would relay the information to him,” she continued. “You weren’t free to walk throughout the house.”
McGee shared similar claims of her time spent living with Kelly for about a month, after spending a good while touring the country with him.
“When I was on the sprinter, I had to use the restroom. I would text him, Daddy, I need to use the restroom. We were required to call him Daddy,” she said. “You would address him as Daddy. If you didn’t, you would get in trouble. Or slapped.”
Both women agreed that Joycelyn Savage, the woman whose parents say she’s being trapped in Kelly’s home against her will, has been “brainwashed.” R. Kelly denies all allegations.
Twista once rapped, “I can make you a celebrity overnight.” Perhaps he was speaking to Phoebe Ryan, the girl whose addictive, playful voice and talent for infectious melodies have made her the Internet’s most promising new Pop star in what seemed like a matter of hours. “Mine,” one of the solo artist’s first releases, features lighthearted lyrics over an up-beat, sun-drenched soundscape that we wish would never end. If you think we’re exaggerating Ryan’s sudden prominence, take a look at the she’s gotten from fellow Pop breakout Tove Lo and actress Chloe Grace Moretz.
After coming out strong with her R. Kelly and Miguel Cover, we had to ask the budding, LA-based singer-songwriter about some of her other fave R. Kelly songs, as well as why he’s such a strong influence on her.
“I’ve been obsessed with R. Kelly since I was six years old. I remember the first time hearing “I Believe I Can Fly” in Space Jam and thinking it was the most beautiful song on earth. He seems like a complicated person, to say the least, but in my mind he is the ultimate R&B artist. Here are my 10 favorite R. Kelly songs that are mostly about sex stuff.”
Check out the playlist below, as well as Ryan’s own take on R. Kelly’s “Ignition.”
You can find just about anything on Etsy these days, but why would you want to spend all day looking through the weirdest and most shambolic corners of the site when you can just have people on the Internet show you all the best stuff? ReadyToStare, an Etsy store from Chicago-based jewelry designer Alysse Dalessandro, has been making the rounds online thanks to her signature item: stud earrings with an image of R. Kelly crying decoupaged on to them. The things is though, while R. Kelly is an artist certainly worth preserving in accessories and an icon, especially in the artist’s hometown of Chicago, why the crying? Certainly, there is a better image of Kells in happier times that would be more effective as a set of earrings. Also, people will probably wear them ironically and totally ruin the magic, but hey, what can you do?
But while the Kells earrings will probably get all the attention in Dalessandro’s store, she has also created stud-earring decoupage tributes to late R&B legend Aaliyah and also-legendary trio TLC. The TLC set, which features all three members in their prime and Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes wearing her trademark eye makeup, are particularly awesome. Dalessandro should really consider matching cufflinks, for the most awesome matching wedding parties/graduates/prom groups ever. Your wallet’s telling you no, but your body, your body’s telling you yes.
In case you missed R. Kelly dropping by Phoenix’s set at Coachella over the weekend, Chicago-based masterminds The Hood Internet have you covered. Sure, you can just replay that grainy YouTube video over and over again, or you can be a grown up and download a professional mix of "Ignition (Remix)" and "1901." Has your brain exploded yet?
At the end of last week, the communications team for the Chicago Department of Transportation was tasked with making citizens aware of the campaign to report potholes in need of repair. Getting people to care about and be proactive potholes is not always easy, and although it is important to make those who can fix the potholes aware of the problem, it’s not always the most fun or engaging topic to write about. So the PR person for CDOT did what any normal communications professional needing to spice up a topic would do: ride the heels of a more popular Chicago event (Lollapalooza, whose lineup had just been announced) and lay on the band name puns as thick as possible. The result? The most ridiculous press release we’ve seen in a while.
"Tired of Drivin ‘N Cryin’ in Traffic over the Minor Threat of potholes in the Pavement? Ready to see nothing but The White Stripes on the roadway and not worry about The Cars swerving to avoid potholes?
This weekend, if you are motorist or a Motörhead, participate in the first-ever “Potholepalooza,” the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) call to Chicagoans to report as many street potholes as possible. Then watch the show next week as CDOT has The Cure for your Moody Blues and fills all of the potholes reported from Friday, April 5 through Sunday April 6 so that your car doesn’t do the Harlem Shake and give you Divine Fits."
Wow. As a lover of bad wordplay, this is a goldmine. But I feel like by working with mostly only band names, even if there are some truly masterful stretches ("Men At Work gave Blood, Sweat and Tears"), the writer really missed out on some quality references. Like, you’re really going to do a music reference-packed press release about potholes and not include a nod to De La Soul’s classic, "Potholes In My Lawn?" Or maybe the writer knew that’s what people who pay too much attention to things like this were expecting and decided to deviate.
Maybe this could become a series for CDOT. Maybe the next one will be all covert references to the raunchiest tracks in the writer’s iTunes catalog. "When you’re on the road and feel a little ‘Bump ‘n’ Grind’ in your tires, be sure to let us know." "Be careful with potholes, or whiplash may have you screaming ‘My Neck, My Back!’" It would certainly get people talking about the important issue of local infrastructure.
Now usually I don’t do this, and by “this,” I mean acknowledging those silly White House petitions that people use to troll the democratic process, but, uh, America could use a little bit of the remix. At least, the drafters of one particular petition and the more than 2,000 people who have signed it think so. Over the weekend, someone posted a petition to urge the White House to change the national anthem from “The Star-Spangled Banner” to R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix).”
“We, the undersigned, would like the Obama administration to recognize the need for a new national anthem, one that even a decade after its creation, is still hot and fresh out the kitchen. America has changed since Francis Scott Key penned our current anthem in 1814. Since then, we have realized that after the show, it’s the afterparty, and that after the party, it’s the hotel lobby, and–perhaps most importantly–that ’round about four, you’ve got to clear the lobby, at which point it’s strongly recommended that you take it to the room and freak somebody. President Obama: we ask you to recognize the evolution of this beautiful country and give us an anthem that better suits the glorious nation we have become.”
We’re guessing this is mostly in an effort to reach the minimum signatures (100,000) to where the White House is required to respond to the request, as occurred with the Death Star petition (man, you nerds really demand a lot from your Commander-In-Chief, don’t you?). Preferably a response that involves the POTUS performing said song at the next White House press conference or putting in a good word for R. Kelly for next year’s Kennedy Center Honors.
And yeah, it’s not gonna happen, but that doesn’t change the fact that “Ignition (Remix)” is one of the greatest songs of the past decade, and honestly, why not? Because everyone loves this song, regardless of background or political affiliation. It could bring about a unity America so desperately needs. And just think of the renditions at high school basketball games and NASCAR events! On the Olympic podiums! What a world that would be.
When you assemble a summer musical festival in a tiny park in an affordable city, you’re already doing something right. When you manage to nab R. Kelly, Bjork, and Belle & Sebastian as headliners, you’re basically suggesting that every other musical festival just go ahead and give up. The Pitchfork Music Festival, which was arguably already the best summer festival our nation had to offer, has just announced its three amazing headliners. The festival will take place July 19-21 in Union Park in Chicago. [via Pitchfork]
It’s been seven years since Chicago R&B singer/librettist R. Kelly first unleashed his increasingly-complex miniseries, Trapped In the Closet, on the world. As the next several dozen chapters are set for their premieres on IFC (the first, Chapter 23, appeared several weeks ago), independent theatres around the country are hosting midnight sing-alongs of Trapped in the Closet in the style of other recognizable works. Last weekend, the Music Box Theater in Robert Kelly’s hometown of Chicago was among them, and a few intrepid friends and I went to check it out. The space was packed, and we met lots of different kinds of people. A selection:
The girl in line to get into the theater who asks you what your spirit animal is. This actually happened to us while we were in line to enter the theatre. She wore three different denim pieces and was genuinely curious as to what our spirit animal was. I played along and told her mine was an otter, which was the first animal that came to mind. She seemed deeply concerned at this answer. Her male companion self-identified as a grizzly. All right then.
Don’t Be That Guy Guy. Probably has a Movember page but hasn’t actually raised any money to fight cancer. Usually plays hotheaded gangster Twan when his friends reenact Trapped. Spends far too much time arguing on the Internet about whether or not it’s okay to say the “n” word while quoting rap songs. Is wrong. Gets way too overzealous about pantomiming the “I pull out my Beretta!” part, gleefully unaware that that is actually pretty problematic considering how much gun violence has gone on in Chicago over the past year.
The genuine Kells scholar. Appreciates R. Kelly from an academic standpoint and is ready to tell you all about all the reasons that this is not a mere hip-hopera. Has analyzed every chapter down to the last raindrop sound effect and phone ring and what it says about Robert Kelly’s life, his work, his family and his personal demons. Of course she knows how R. Kelly came up with the vocal design for Bridget and that Sylvester is actually Kells’ middle name and which family members Randolph and Pimp Lucius are based on, and more. She can tell you all about the choir Kelly sang in in high school and all the ways Trapped in the Closet exemplifies Wagner’s Ring Cycle and his notion of the Gesamtkuntswerk. (Actually, if you want to listen to actual Kells scholars discuss all of this in a rather fascinating manner, including everything from his roots to the connections to Theodor Adorno and Wagner, check out the R. Kelly edition of Jenny Benevento and Paul Riismandel’s Sell Out podcast, taped at Homeroom Chicago’s "R. Kelly 101" event.)
The organizers, who really, really want this to be the newRocky Horror Picture Show. There’s always going to be debate over what constitutes a cult film or a cult classic and when can something be called a cult classic and what denotes the cult canon and so on and so forth. The ability to turn a screening of a film into an event will inevitably always be a marker of consideration—recent abominations like The Room have inspired events all over the world, although whether or not they have the staying power of a Rocky Horror remains to be seen. The promotion team behind the event, who put on screenings like this all over the country, sought out to make Trapped into an event like screenings for Rocky or The Room, complete with props (handing out spatulas and condoms) and a pre-show ritual, in this case, an R. Kelly dance party of some of the singer’s most recognizable intimate jamz. We’ll see if this catches on.
The person who is too drunk to be anywhere. Well over half the audience, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Bellows along to the first two chapters and can’t remember much else, but just catches up with the repeated last word at the end of every chapter. Other than that, their main contributions are applauding whenever Twan says/does anything and screaming "OH SHIT, IT’S OMAR!" when Michael K. Williams first appears. Oh, and dancing (badly) in the aisles during Reverend Moseley’s service.
And, just to jog your memory/send you down a Tuesday morning R. Kelly rabbit hole, here’s the first chapter of Kells’ masterwork again for you.