I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful spectrum of modern and classic soul, and rhythm & blues music I witnessed after viewing this year’s Soul Train Awards on BET and Centric. From Erykah Badu’s awesome dry humor and skits, the first-ever “Soul Cypher”, and tributes to the careers of Babyface and Jill Scott all resurfaced and solidified my appreciation and love for this dwindling musical genre.
However, after viewing all the different thoughts and views on the award show in social media and various blog sites, I noticed that many people are still serving serious shade to R&B titan, R. Kelly. Kelly closed out the award ceremony by dazzling the crowd with his new hit “Backyard Party” as well as a medley of all his greatest hits, which I enjoyed a great deal. But after reading an article by Damon Young, Editor-in-chief of the VSB blog site (Very Smart Brothas), entitled “Yeah, If You’re Still an R. Kelly Fan in 2015 You Just Might Be A Worse Person Than R. Kelly”; his harsh criticism of R. Kelly fans left me in a conflicted head space.
Now granted, it’s wrong for any adult, including R. Kelly, to prey and take advantage on teenagers and children to feed their own fetishistic obsessions, and despite his wrongdoings and shady past of marrying then underage, R&B superstar Aaliyah, and possessing a reputation of having numerous sexual affairs with underage teenage girls; I’m personally a major fan of R. Kelly’s catalogue and his contribution to the R&B genre. And, I’ve openly admitted that I think he is still a musical genius.
Even in the mist of all these allegations becoming public information, I have continued to enjoy R. Kelly’s artistry and think he’s an awesome performer. I also think that he’s still uber sexy and handsome for a man who’s almost fifty years old. I think enough time has passed to allow R. Kelly to reflect on his wrongdoings, and I’m hoping that he has gotten some type of therapy to treat his sexual and mental ailments. The fact that I am still entertained by Kelly and find him appealing doesn’t mean I am agreeing with the wrongdoings in his social or personal life. I just know how to separate the man from the art.
I also have the same perspective on Chris Brown in regards to separating the man from the art. The domestic assault incident between him and Rihanna seemed terrible and horrific and I hope that both of them have sought spiritual and emotional therapy to heal from that matter. It’s not right for a man or woman to put hands on their romantic partner, and I think that is the major lesson to take away. Therefore, I am not going to criticize and judge Chris Brown for this past mistake for the rest of his career when he’s obviously an immense talent and major eye candy. I think time has shown that he has moved past that situation, and evidence has never surfaced of him assaulting any of his other girlfriends before or after Rihanna. And most importantly, it happened TO Rihanna, if she forgave him, so have I.
In my further observation of public ridicule of celebrities, I’ve also noticed how some celebrities are demonized more than others, For example, Jay-Z. Now, Jay-Z, aka “Hova”, has successfully detached himself from his rougher persona of his younger years. However, after watching the documentary Backstage, of the behind the scenes perspective of the Hard Knock Life Tour, my view of Jay-Z has never been the same since its release back in 2000.
There is a specific scene in Jay-Z’s dressing room where he is with a small group of people relaxing after his set. Jay-Z and his entourage requested that no one could take photos of him in the dressing room; however, there was one female who excitingly took a quick flick of the rap superstar. Jay-Z is immediately offended and shoves himself aggressively in the young woman’s face letting her know that her taking the photo was offensive and angered him. I thought that would be all and a security guard would escort her out of his dressing room. But, Jay-Z kept talking to her as if she was a man. He kept mushing and nudging her in the head as he continued to give her an unnecessary and lingering lecture of her taking the unwanted photo. I feel like he could’ve let it go after his first disapproving statement, but he kept egging her on as if he wanted her to flip out so he’d have a reason to hit her.
Jay-Z looked like he was in a deep trance, and forgot that he was talking to a female. The young woman kept calm and silent, I’m assuming to avoid getting her block knocked off by Jay-Z. But, the most unfortunate part of this whole matter is that no one came to diffuse the situation. None of the security guards or any of the members of Jay-Z’s entourage pulled them apart or escorted her out of the dressing room. They all reacted as if this was typical Jay-Z behavior and didn’t feel any remorse for the young woman’s safety.
I realize this was fifteen years ago, and Jay-Z has a socially evolved mind frame now (i.e. elevator showdown with sister-in-law Solange Knowles). But I still think it’s weird that the media, social media, or the public at large never brings this incident up at all, however, its still in fashion to go hard on R. Kelly and Chris Brown. Wrong is wrong, and these gentlemen have all done wrong. If we’re going to publicly ridicule one for years and years, then it should be spread evenly amongst all high profile celebrities.
As far as I’m concerned, judgment of all people should be left up to either God or the judicial system. However, Social media, Hollywood-centered websites, and blogs have become ultra-obsessed and consumed by the everyday lives of celebrities. I think that we, the public, take our personal views way too seriously. At the end of the day, who are we to judge. All of mankind commit acts of sins and have done crazy things that if brought to light, we would all be ashamed. I think that once the mishaps in the lives of celebrities are surfaced, we should give them time to see how they bounce back from these low moments. That’s where we can truly observe the true fabric of their character. I feel the public judge’s celebrities so harshly because the right to privacy is the only luxury they can’t afford, despite the latter.