R Kelly’s bumps and grinds with Jamaicans

R Kelly performing on Reggae Sumfest in July 2012.

(Jamaica Observer) R Kelly has come under fire in the United States after the Lifetime channel released a six-part docu-series, Surviving R Kelly, on January 3. The series document stories of women who have allegedly been abused by the rhythm and clues singer, as well as allegations of child pornography that have plagued his career for well over a decade.

Surviving R Kelly also looks at his marriage to singer Aaliyah when she was reportedly 15 years old. Since then, many industry players including Sony Music and RCA Records have dropped him.

Members of the music fraternity have declared that they will no longer work with or support the self-proclaimed “Pied Piper of R&B”.

But R Kelly has had his own run-ins in Jamaica.He was blasted by Jamaican media for dropping his pants during his performance on a show at Jamworld Entertainment Complex in 1994.

Show promoter Isaiah Laing, recalls this incident.

“He performed at Jamworld, I think in 1994. But the event was not well-supported. The ticket prices were too high and there was something against him about the drop pants thing. People just wasn’t up for him. I never know anything about the whole thing, it’s just not a good look,” said Laing.

In 2012, R Kelly (given name Robert Sylvester Kelly) appeared on the Reggae Sumfest stage after being a no-show for the 2011 show for which he had been booked. He showed up for his performance late and tipsy.

“What’s going on y’all?” Kelly asked the audience. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Jamaica and I’m having a great time. I’ve been chilling on the beach all day drinking, so y’all forgive me if I’m a lil’ bit tipsy. But I’m gonna try to do the job.”

Johnny Gourzong, who was part of the Sumfest team then, does not remember details of that show.

“I don’t recall,” he told Splash. “It (his performance) was well-received. He was little bit nervous at first, because he did not want to disappoint the crowd, (but) after three to five minutes he was on fire.”

R Kelly also received backlash after his 2017 performance at Groovin in The Park in Queens, New York. The family-oriented show featured a number of Jamaican acts such as Tarrus Riley, Freddie McGregor, U-Roy, Ken Boothe, and Leroy Sibbles, Lloyd Parks and We The People Band, and Busy Signal.

During Kelly’s performance, he dropped a number of F bombs and did a lot of crotch-grabbing. Displeased with his behaviour, the audience booed him, but he continued his set.

Police in the United States have started to revisit sexual abuse allegations against R Kelly following the release of the documentary. The allegations may be subject to criminal prosecution in several US states including Illinois, where R Kelly lives.

He was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 after being charged in June 2002.

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