It’s been twenty hours since I finished watching the first two episodes of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary, and I’m still shook. Not because I was unaware of the allegations about the famed R&B singer’s predatory and ephebophilic behavior. Not because I didn’t believe the allegations. But because now, the accusers — the victims — have faces. They have tears and shaky voices that we can see and hear… finally. They are now real to the masses, and so are their stories. And they weren’t the only ones talking. Robert Kelly’s two brothers, his high school music teacher, former tour manager, music producer, and more had plenty to say regarding his behavior.
“He destroyed a lot of people.” – Jovante Cunningham
Let me tell y’all this. Jovante Cunningham, one of his former background singers, is the real MVP. She was there to tell all the stories, honey. Well, not all. She was careful to only give some details of seeing Robert have sex with Aaliyah on the tour bus. She admitted to being protective over Aaliyah then and now, which I totally respected. Every recount she gave about Robert’s behavior with teenage girls and her overall experience of working with him as a teen girl herself seemed authentic and nothing short of believable. Her emotion was palpable. If she’s lying, give the girl an Emmy.
Demetrius Smith, Robert’s former tour manager and personal assistant, also had a lot to say. He was around for much of the singer’s fuckery, and served as an accomplice. He helped get papers forged to facilitate Robert’s marriage to Aaliyah. He was THERE when they got married, stating that Aaliyah looked “worried and scared.” Though he claimed he wanted to talk to her, he didn’t. He let her marry a grown-ass man at the age of fifteen. And though I knew of the marriage certificate back in ’94 when this all took place, I didn’t know that there was talk that she was possibly pregnant, which Robert referred to as him getting her in trouble. He would also approach girls Robert scoped out to let him know he was interested, and who knows what else he assisted with. I shall call him the Fuck’ry Facilitator.
Music producer Craig Williams mentioned being at R. Kelly parties and in his studio where there were nothing but young-looking girls. Sensing that something wasn’t right, he says he left because he didn’t want to be a part of whatever was going on. To cover his ass, he stated the obvious: that he wasn’t checking IDs or anything, but the girls looked young. Still, he left those young-looking girls right there with his grown-ass friend/associate. Mind you, he’d already heard that Robert often hung out at Kenwood High School, and he wondered why he would being hanging around kids. That blind eye is something else!
Ex-wife Andrea Kelly spoke of how she wanted to love him through his mess after witnessing his vulnerabilities and falling for him. She recalls their relationship being beautiful… in the beginning. He became controlling, locking her in rooms, making her stay in the bedroom and knock to request to come out and eat… He even surprised her with their wedding, doing everything on his terms. He isolated her from her family, and didn’t allow her to talk to many people. Meanwhile, he was still messing with Lizette Martinez, an aspiring singer he met at a mall when she was seventeen years old. (He never told Lizette of the marriage. She found out on the radio.) While Andrea is sharing some of her story now, she says there are still things she will not disclose because she’s still processing the abuse she suffered from her ex-husband.
Sparkle has even come out of the woodwork. If you don’t remember her, she sang background vocals for him and then became a solo artist. The hit most of us remember is, “Be Careful,” a duet with R. Kelly. She spoke of Robert’s controlling ways – how no one was allowed to speak to her, but when she found out, she made sure she spoke to everyone, just to piss him off. Even though she’d witnessed some of his “shit,” she introduced her thirteen year-old niece to him. She was an aspiring rapper, and she was hoping he would help jump start her career, too. And though her niece eventually became famous, it wasn’t for her rap skills. If you kept up with the case back in the day, you already know the young girl became famous for him peeing on her face.
Lisa Van Allen was approached by Robert’s cousin at the “Home Alone” video shoot. She told him she was seventeen, and he was about thirty-one at the time. Out the gate, his question to her was whether her mother would let her come to Chicago. They had sex during the video shoot, on his bus; and she recalls thinking she shouldn’t have gotten physical with him that soon, but that it was R. Kelly. She eventually went to Chicago, telling her mother where she was headed and who she was going to see. That led to her staying in Chicago, believing he was her boyfriend, and having a threesome with a young girl who I believe is Sparkle’s niece. That detail will be confirmed or denied in the next episode.
- That fool paid Aaliyah $100 to not pursue legal action after their marriage. One. Hundred. Dollars. Even in ’94, that was not a lot of money to my fourteen-year-old ass.
- I should note that Robert and his brother were molested as young children by family members.
- Bruce, one of Robert’s brothers, had the nerve to justify his brother’s attraction to underage girls as a preference. He actually said the word “preference,” and shared that his preference is older women. One difference, sir. One “preference” is illegal AF. Now, why are interviewing from prison again?
- There’s so much more. Watch because it’s necessary. Your spirit will be disturbed, though.
- Meanwhile, Aaliyah’s mom released a statement.
Ms. Diane, don’t do this. The discussion about Aaliyah was tasteful, and at some point, you need to stop acting like we’re stupid. Where were you and your husband when she and Robert got married?