Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The Shame of Enjoying Problematic Music

My mind is tellin' me no. But my body, my body's tellin' me yes
Baby, I 
don't want to hurt nobody
But there is something that I must confess...

Chances are, you are singing this in your head as you read. Or like me, you’re singing this aloud… at the top of your voice. 

Initially, I thought the disapproving looks were due to my singing voice, but when they were accompanied with ‘how can you sing that?’, I realised it was something more than the fact I can’t sing. I was being questioned on how I could possibly sing along to a song written and sung by R Kelly, a musical artist who yet again has been at the forefront of some horrific allegations this year. Is it appropriate to enjoy the music of a problematic artist?

R Kelly has been problematic long before 2017. After writing most of and producing Aaliyah’s debut album ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number’ released when she was 15, the two artists were married with a falsified marriage certificate stating Aaliyah’s age as 18. R Kelly was 27 at the time. The marriage was annulled after it was discovered by Aaliyah’s family.