R. Kelly seemed to respond to the growing list of sexual misconduct allegations against him in song on Monday morning (July 23). The 19-minute track “I Admit,” posted on the Soundcloud account of Julius “A&R” Darrington, CEO of Audiodream Records, is part mea culpa and part shots fired at Kelly’s accusers and the journalist who has pursued stories of the singer’s so-called “sex cult” of young women.
Over a signature Kelly slow jam track, the singer appears to address nearly all of the allegations lodged against him over the past two decades, opening with the lines: “I admit I done made some mistakes/And I have some imperfect ways/I admit I helped so many people/And them same damn people turned fake,” before referencing dropping out of high school (and being unable to read the Teleprompter at the Grammys because he can’t spell), almost retiring, not attending church and confessing, “I done fucked with a couple of fans.”
The rambling track — a successor of sorts to the singer’s 33-chapter “Trapped in The Closet” series of story songs — seems to hit on the many pitfalls that have snagged Kelly lately, from the “cult” allegations to his brief Spotify playlist ban, his dire financial situation and bad contracts he signed because of his dyslexia.
“I admit I fuck with all the ladies, that’s both older and young ladies (ladies, yeah)/But tell me how they call it pedophile because that shit is crazy (crazy),” he sings, seemingly responding to allegations that he has taken up with a group of young women and alluding to his 2008 acquittal in a child pornography case involving a 13 year-old girl. “You may have your opinions, entitled to your opinions (opinions)/But really am I supposed to go to jail or lose my career because of your opinion/Yeah, go ahead and stone me, point your finger at me (stone me, yeah, yeah)/Turn the world against me, but only god can mute me.” The latter line could be a reference to the #MuteRKelly campaign, which has urged record labels, online music platforms, venues and Ticketmaster to break ties with the singer.
While some of the admissions are garden variety in Kelly’s sex-obsessed world (lying to women, drinking, smoking, going to strip clubs and trusting people too much; sleeping with his girlfriend’s best friend), some of the apparent confessions are surprisingly candid for the singer, who has tried so hard to keep his private life under wraps and referred to the cult allegations as “crap.”
“Now the truth in this message is I’m a broke-ass legend,” he sings at one point. “The only reason I stay on tour is ’cause I gotta pay my rent…I never thought it would come to this, to be the most disrespected artist/So I had to write a song about it/Because they always take my words and twist it/Believe me, it’s hard to admit all this.”
While Kelly has vehemently denied the “cult” accusations over the past year, he seems to directly speak to them on the track, saying, “I admit I am not perfect/I never said I was perfect/Say I’m abusing these women/What the fuck, that’s some absurd shit/They brainwashed, really?/Kidnapped, really?/Can’t eat, really?/Real talk, that sounds silly.” He even asks later in the song, “What’s the definition of a cult?/What’s the definition of a sex slave?/Go to dictionary, look it up, let me know, I’ll be here waiting/Now I admit I got some girls who love me, they pull they hair/Now I admit they love me talk dirty when I pull they hair/Some like me to spank them, some like to give brain/And what some of these girls want is too much for a radio station.”
Kelly also seems to speak directly to the parents of some of the young women allegedly living with him, accusing them of trying to exploit him for gain and then getting angry when things don’t turn out the way they expected (“Don’t push your daughter in my face/And tell me that it’s okay/Because your agenda is to get paid/And get mad when it don’t go your way”). At one point he appears to directly address the parents of Joycelyn Savage, who have claimed that the singer kidnapped their daughter after they introduced him to the aspiring teen vocalist.
“And if you really, really wanna know/Her father dropped her off at my show/And told this boy to put her on stage,” he sings. “I admit that she was over age/I admit that I was feelin’ her and I admit that she was feelin’ me/I admit that that’s the sh– that comes with/being a celebrity/I ain’t chasing these ladies/These ladies are chasing me, yeah.” Joycelyn Savage, now 21, has appeared in several videos over the past year in which she said her relationship with Kelly was consensual and that she voluntarily cut off contact with her parents.
The singer also appears to allude to alleged sexual abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of an unnamed family member (“Now, I admit a family member touched me/From a child to the age 14/While I laid asleep, took my virginity”) and notes his brief removal earlier this summer from Spotify playlists as part of a hate content and hateful conduct policy, which was later rolled back. But he saves some of his harshest lyrics for the journalist who has pursued the stories of Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct for more than 20 years.
“To Jim DeRogatis, whatever your name is (whatever your name is)/You been tryna destroy me for 25 whole years/Writin’ the same stories over and over against,” he says of the former Chicago Sun-Times writer and current freelance journalist who has written multiple accounts of Kelly’s alleged sexual misdeed. “Off my name, you done went and made yourself a career/But guess what? I pray for you and family, and all my other enemies/I’m not gonna let y’all steal my joy, I’m just gonna keep on doing me.”
The rambling song also briefly alludes to his marriage to a then-15 year-old Aaliyah as part of a remembered conversation with an unnamed woman, in which he also appears to address the 27-minute videotape of a sexual encounter with an underage woman that was the basis of his child pornography trial. “We both turned off our phone, we drinked, I smoked, we talked I admit that I tore it off (our phone, we talked, it off)/From my good points to my faults (faults)/She said ‘What about Aaliyah said?’/Love, she said ‘What about the tape?’/I said hush/I said my lawyer said ‘don’t say noth”/But I can tell you I’ve been set up (up).”
Saying “my work has nothing to do with my private life,” Kelly concludes by telling people to “stay the fuck out of my business,” daring someone to make the allegations to his face. “There is one thing that’s for sure/And I want to make this shit clear/I done lived my voice and represented my country/For 31 fuckin’ years/Damn it, I admit.”
A spokesperson for Kelly could not be reached for additional comment on the track at press time.
Check out the full lyrics here and listen to “I Admit” below.