Timbaland has received backlash for declaring R. Kelly as the “King of R&B” despite the artist’s convictions for sex crimes in multiple states.
During an interview on Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast, Timbaland discussed Kelly’s controversial legacy and argued for separating the artist’s music from his personal actions.
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“R. Kelly is the King of R&B. We all know that,” stated the producer. “And it’s interesting because whenever you mention R. Kelly, everyone reacts. But are we just going to ignore the music he has given us, the music we all enjoy? No, we can’t do that. His art is his art, and I won’t criticize his artistic contributions.”
He continued, emphasizing the distinction between music and personal life: “Don’t mix music with personal issues. Music is about feeling; it stands on its own. Music transcends race, brings people together, and has no drama attached to it. It’s a source of enjoyment, a feeling. So, leave the drama outside.”
Timbaland’s comments raise eyebrows, considering his association with the late Aaliyah, who married R. Kelly in 1994 when she was only 15 years old, and he was 27.
Timbaland’s comments regarding R.Kelly aren’t surprising, seeing that he and Kelly shared the same sick obsession over Aaliyah. pic.twitter.com/SLZKz1uCCq
— LEX (@alexisoatman) May 25, 2023
Criticism swiftly followed online, with some suggesting that Timbaland’s support for R. Kelly stems from his own inappropriate feelings toward a teenage Aaliyah.
“Timbaland is okay with R. Kelly’s music because he himself had similar thoughts about Aaliyah. He has admitted it,” commented one critic on Twitter.
Another person wrote, “Remember when a woman claimed R. Kelly impregnated her at 16, but she miscarried, and then R. Kelly wrote ‘You Are Not Alone’ for her? That’s why we can’t separate the music from the criminal acts.”
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A different individual added, “This is particularly disturbing coming from Timbaland, considering that one of the girls R. Kelly violated was Aaliyah, whom he referred to as ‘baby girl.’ How can you not acknowledge that pedophilia may have been present in his early music when he was with her?”
While currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for sex trafficking convictions in New York, R. Kelly was also found guilty in a second federal sexual assault case in Chicago, receiving an additional 20-year sentence in February.
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A grand jury convicted the “Ignition” artist on six out of 13 federal charges, including three child pornography charges related to the sexual abuse of four girls, three of whom were minors.
Additionally, Kelly was found guilty of creating three videos of himself engaging in sexual acts with his 14-year-old goddaughter, leading to three more charges for producing explicit content involving a minor.
.@Timbaland on R. Kelly:
“He's the King of R&B. His art is his art, and I’m not going to bash his art. As a culture we need to separate it, don’t mix music with the person.”
📺: https://t.co/rpbrqizbmC pic.twitter.com/XLF2cMZ9RN
— Club Shay Shay (@ClubShayShay) May 18, 2023