R. Kelly dropped an epic 19-minute track titled "I Admit" in which he confesses to all sorts of bad behavior, addressing several scandals along the way.
The artist has become more known for his antics off the stage and outside of the studio than any of his big hits, and he's had a prolific and successful career with several hits (don't worry, those get a shout-out, too). Much of this has revolved around his sex life, including his marriage to Aaliyah when she was only 15 years old, the infamous "pee tape" of 2002, followed shortly by allegations of possessing and creating "child pornography" in 2004.
The meandering song doesn't just stick to those hits, though, also touching on abuses Kelly claims to have suffered as a child, his current financial straits, struggles with his record company and even the media's obsession with his various proclivities.
R. Kelly has faced multiple allegations of cheating through the years, including a lawsuit filed against him by a deputy sheriff just last year, as reported by People, who alleges the singer maintained a five-year affair with his wife. The subject has come up multiple times in Kelly's music as well, perhaps most infamously in his epic "Trapped in the Closet" sequence, which in many ways resembles the free-flowing style of this new track. Kelly generally names no names in the song, but the admissions are nonetheless clear.
Won't say no name, I'm not a snitch
But one night at the Ritz, did some shit I shouldn't of did (at the Ritz, shouldn't of did)
Went and f----d a n---a's bitch
I admit, I admit that I did (I did)
I f----d my girlfriends best friend (oh)
Yeah I tapped that in the back of my Benz (my Benz)
R. Kelly opened up about being the victim of sexual abuse in a GQ interview in 2014. According to Kelly, his abuser was a female blood relative and the abuse occurred between the ages of "seven or eight to maybe 14, 15." He said he has forgiven them, and saw it as perhaps a "generational curse going down through the family." Considering the allegations against him, the statement carries some irony.
Now, I admit a family member touched me (touched me, touched me, touched me)
From a child to the age 14, yeah
While I laid asleep, took my virginity (sleep, gini')
So scared to say something, so I just put the blame on me
On Younger Women
From his secret marriage to Aaliyah at 15 to multiple allegations of having sex with children as young as 13-years old, accusations of pedophilia have followed Kelly around for decades now. He has denied any and all allegations and has never been arrested on any sexually-related charges.
I admit I f--k 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)
Nevertheless, Kelly seems to have a different attitude about these relationships, mentioning several times that parents are supportive of his relationships with their daughters. According to the lyrics, Kelly is suggesting that it is these same parents who are turning around and slapping him with a lawsuit, perhaps seeing him as an easy target. He has settled several cases brought against him.
I admit that this is no disrespect to the parents (no disrespect)
But this is my advice to you 'cause I'm also a parent (parent)
Don't push your daughter in my face, and tell me that it's okay (my face, okay)
'Cause your agenda is to get paid, and get mad when it don't go your way (yeah, go way)
Jim DeRogatis is a music critic and journalist who has been chronicling the career and life of R. Kelly for two decades now. He broke the story of Kelly's alleged "sex cult" through a Buzzfeed story in 2017, as well as covering other stories through the years including charges of statutory rape and child pornography, for which Kelly was acquitted in 2008.
To Jim DeRogatis, whatever your name is (whatever your name is)
You been tryna destroy me for 25 whole years (25 whole years, yeah)
Writin' the same stories over and over again (stories, stories, yeah)
Off my name, you done went and made yourself a career (a whole career)
But guess what? I pray for you and family, and all my other enemies (prayed for you, enemies)
I'm not gonna let y'all steal my joy, I'm just gon' keep on doing me (my joy, doing me)
Now I don't know what else to say except, I'm so falsely accused
Tell me how can you judge, when you've never walked in my shoes
On Sex Slaves
Kelly has been accused of running something similar to a cult with young women, as first reported by journalist Jim DeRogatis for Buzzfeed. One of his alleged victims described a home with strict rules (baggy clothes, no cell phones, supervised outside calls and permission for everything from eating and showering to going to the bathroom). The Guardian reports that Kelly has "unequivocally" denied the charges.
Said I'm abusing these women, what the f--k that's some absurd shit (what?)
They're brainwashed, really? (really)
Kidnapped, really? (really)
Can't eat, really? (really)
Real talk, that shit sound silly (yeah)
Elsewhere in the song, Kelly explores the definition of a cult, not specifically denying that he maintains a relationship with these girls, just insisting that it's not what some are calling it.
What's the definition of a cult?
What's the definition of a sex slave?
Go to the dictionary, look it up
Let me know, I'll be here waiting
He even went so far as to compare himself to Hugh Hefner, who famously had younger women living in his house, and reportedly as lovers, as chronicled on "The Girls Next Door" reality series.
Now I admit I love Hugh Hefner (Hugh Hefner)
Through the years supported Hugh Hefner (yeah)
But when he left this world, he had a million girls,
R. Kelly recounts a night where he opened up about a lot of the scandals that have plagued him with talk show host Wendy Williams. In it, he says it was love with Aaliyah, despite her tender age, and that his lawyer has advised him to say nothing about the alleged tape of him urinating on an underage girl, as well as having sex with her.
Now Wendy Williams mad with me? But I ain't never offered her no drink (no drink)
But I admit that she asked me, can I get a little Hennessy? (yeah)
We both turned off our phone, we drinked, I smoked, we talked
I admit that I told it all (our phone, we talked, it off)
From my good points to my faults (faults)
She said "What about Aaliyah?"
I 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)
On Industry Respect
R. Kelly hasn't had a hit in many years, mired in scandal as he's been, but he was a big deal throughout much of the 1990s. He makes a nod to his own hit-making past by giving a shout out to three of those '90s hits. The singer is demanding some respect for his musical achievements, frustrated they've become completely overshadowed by the more salacious aspects of his life.
I did that "Bump and Grind," I did that "12 Play," I did that "Fed Up"
I changed the damn game, so I deserve me a fair play, so put some respect on my damn name (fair)
According to Kelly, this song is his attempt to set the record straight about his life so people can get over it, move on and focus on the things that really matter: like how important and influential he is as an artist.
I never thought it would come to this, to be the most disrespected artist (come)
So I had to write a song about this, 'cause they always take my words and twist it (song)
Believe me it's hard to admit all this, but I'm in my feelin's about this shit (oh, oh, yeah, yeah)
But I had to set the f----n' record straight, so (yeah, yeah)
Earlier this year, R. Kelly was evicted from his Atlanta homes where he owed nearly $30,000 in back rent. The singer declined comment as to his financial situation at the time, but speculation began to run rampant that he was broke, or nearly there. Now, the singer is admitting he's at "rock bottom."
Now here I am, and I'm tryin' my best to be honest (honest)
'Cause the sources out there tryna keep me from bein' an artist
I admit I'm at rock bottom (oh, oh)
And this shit has rocked my mind (my mind)
Kelly claims that a big part of the reason for his current financial situation is that he doesn't own the rights to his music, either as a songwriter or artist. He claims he's tried to regain those rights from his record company to no avail.
I admit that I don't own my music (I)
I admit that I wrote on my music (yeah)
Want it back but they don't wanna do it (don't wanna)
What the f--k n---a, I wrote that music (I)
Throughout the song, Kelly confesses to his lack of education and dyslexia, citing those as reasons he naively signed away his publishing rights. He says he tours in order to make enough money to get by.
I admit it, how ever since the first day (first day)
That without knowin' that I signed my publishin' away (away)
I admit it, I was young and caught up and so blind, yeah (so blind)
Said I had dyslexia, couldn't read all them contracts, yeah
Now the truth in this message, is I'm a broke ass legend (message, legend)
The only reason I stay on tour, is 'cause I gotta pay my rent (on tour, my)
Last year, Kelly paid more than a quarter of a million dollars in back taxes to the IRS, as reported by The Jasmine Brand. But this was only the most recent offense, as Kelly has struggled to pay back taxes for years. Here, he says he's had to borrow from his label to try and keep up.
I admit I had to borrow a couple of M's from the label (label)
All these hits out but I couldn't put food on the table (table)
I was told I had to sell my cars, I was told I couldn't get a loan (cars, loans)
Said I owed 20 million to the IRS and they were coming to get my home (oh, oh)
In May 2018, Kelly was among several artists removed from official Spotify playlists as part of their new "hate content" policies, despite the fact that he has never been found guilty of any wrongdoing. Kelly was the only artist named through most media reports of those Spotify selected for exclusion, which included the late controversial rapper XXXTentacion. After a public backlash, Spotify reversed course and reinstated those artists June 1, as reported by Variety.
Spotify, took me off they playlist (playlist)
I admit that I, been underrated (rated)
I'm not convicted, not arrested, but dragged my name in the dirt (nope, oh, yeah, yeah)
All this work to be successful, when you abandon me 'cause of what you heard (yeah, oh, yeah, heard)
I admit that I am not perfect, I never said I was perfect (perfect, perfect)