R.Kelly to his black fan base: 'We as a culture have to support each other'
R.Kelly is back with his thirteenth studio album, The Buffet, in stores now.
The album features Lil Wayne, Jhene Aiko and Tinashe and marks the recording debut of his daughter, Joann Kelly, who goes by the stage name Ariiriayé.
Sales of The Buffet, which was released December 11, have been sluggish in comparison to 2013’s Black Panties, prompting the Grammy-winning singer to post a Facebook video weeks ago asking R&B fans to buy his album.
“I bust my ass going around doing shows to survive, but I do this for the love,” Kelly said. “But come on, at some point we gotta start supporting each other. Everybody supports every other category of music, we gotta start supporting each other.”
Monday, R.Kelly became a trending topic nationwide on Twitter after walking out of an interview with HuffPost Live when questioned about previous allegations of sexual assault.
Before his interview with at HuffPost, R. Kelly stopped by theGrio.com. The artist discussed in detail what he described as a lack of support for R&B artists within the black community.
“It’s not about me; it’s not just about supporting R.Kelly,” he said. “It’s about everybody supporting each other. It’s something that secretly nobody really speaks up about it,” he said. “I feel like for a long time our culture hasn’t really supported each other in anything, whether it’s music or anything else. We’ve been putting each other down a lot, and I think that needs to change.”
R. Kelly said some of today’s white pop R&B artists, like Sam Smith and Robin Thicke, seemingly sustain unwavering support from their fans.
“White people come out and they support each other, and they buy each other’s music, and they don’t bootleg it… they don’t steal it, they don’t download it; they go out and support each other. That’s why you got a lot of pop artists going 80 million platinum… video played all over the place. We have to as a culture support each other. I never thought about being pop and R&B and all these different categories. I just wanted to be music and wanted everybody to love my music. I don’t care what color they are. I didn’t write my music for no particular color.”
In November, Vulure published an essay entitled, “The R.Kelly Problem,” posing the question of whether or not it was “okay” to listen to Kelly’s music.
R.Kelly took a moment to respond to that headline, saying:
Hell yeah it absolutely is good to listen to R.Kelly. You always want to support someone who’s overcome something… who didn’t run from something, who faced a monster, the belly of the beast,” he said. “It’s not a hero movie that you’ve ever looked at on television that you didn’t want the hero to come out of it, and I think that’s what people did with me… especially my fans.
The 48-year-old Chicago native calls himself a seasoned ‘general’ in the R&B genre and said that he doesn’t want to have to beg folks to go out and buy his music.
R.Kelly took a moment to send a message to his followers:
“My message to my fans first of all is I wouldn’t want them to support anything that they didn’t feel in their heart was worth supporting. I don’t like to feel like I’m selling myself, because I’ve proven myself. Any fan out there that knows me, they know I’m real because they can feel it through my music because of everything I’ve been through. Everything I’m going through is channeled into my music, and that’s why people feel my music.”
Follow theGrio.com’s Entertainment Editor Chris Witherspoon on Twitter @WitherspoonC.