During what was supposed to be a light-hearted Coachella interview, Vince Staples did something that would have been taboo for a popular rapper to do about a generation ago: he spoke out against R.Kelly. Actually, spoke out doesnt fully cover the brutally matter-of-fact way the 24-year-old artist laid Kellys sordid past bare during an interview with Everyday Struggles Nadeska Alexis.
They were jokingly discussing Staples previous encounters with law enforcement when he remarked that only gangsta rappers go to jail and used R. Kelly as proof.
R. Kelly never went to jail and hes a f**king child molester, said Staples, pressing on even as Alexis protested. …but Im just saying, hes a child molester, and he pees on people, and he cant read and write, and he didnt go to jail. Im a good person. R. Kellys a piece of f**king sh*t. So, if piece-of-f**king-sh*t R. Kelly didnt go to jail for being a child molester and peeing on people and having a human trafficking ring in Atlanta, then Ill be alright.
Uploaded by Coachella on 2018-04-16.
Its not the first time that Staples has been vocal on issues about which other rappers may have stayed close-lipped. During a 2015 interview with CNN, Staples addressed issues with the U.S. education system, namely the disheartening high school dropout rate, and the way that drug abuse is glorified in rap, saying, Drugs have always been a part of music and it went from the drug dealer to the drug user now. Theres more music being made about the drug use than the distribution of the drugs, and that was something that to me always seemed like a last resort to a lot of people.
In a 2017 interview with NPRs Michel Martin, he discussed his discomfort with being treated like a magical negro, subverting stereotypical and misogynistic rap tropes in his work, and the way his white fans react to this line in Lift Me Up: All these white folks chanting when I asked ’em where my n***** at / Goin’ crazy, got me goin’ crazy, I can’t get with that.”
So, yes, Staples has been outspoken for a while, but this was something different. I played this clip back about three times when it crossed my timeline because I was so shocked that it actually happened. Staples delivery may have still been light-hearted, but it doesnt change the fact that he is one of the few black male artists who will actually criticize R. Kellys [alleged] abuse of black women and girls in the open.
A new report claims at least two sets of parents have reported the 50-year-old singer to police, claiming they’ve lost contact with their young daughters after they began living with Kelly.
And, yes, Alexis was right that he probably should have been more careful with his words. Afterall, R. Kelly was acquitted. Nevermind the existence of a VHS tape featuring a man who looked exactly like him having sex with a child. Nevermind the fact that during the trial, the alleged victim denied that it was her on the tape, even as 15 other witnesses testified otherwise. Nevermind that black women of a certain age from Chicago tell stories of R. Kelly [allegedly] staking out their high schools for young girls to groom. Nevermind that the actual allegations against R. Kelly, both from 2002 and 2017 should turn all of our stomachs.
Fans and continued supporters of R. Kelly love living in that gray area. And judging by my own heated conversations with R. Kelly apologists in my own life, many of them continue to support him because they have pigheadedly refused to look into the facts of the case. They heard that R. Kelly was peeing on people, laughed heartily at a certain Chappelle’s Show skit, chuckled a bit at that episode of The Boondocks, and completely dismissed the fact that the Pied Piper, the fairytale character from which R. Kelly derived his own nickname, literally lured children away from their homes with music.
They were just allegations. He was indicted but never charged. So yes, Step in the Name of Love can still play at grandmas birthday party, even though there are stories of R. Kellys young accusers trying to commit suicide. Despite Chance the Rappers social activism, he can still record and release music with an accused sexual predator (as well as sample one of his most risque hits and even bring him on stage at Coachella). Bump & Grind can remain in that DJs slow jams set, even though, reporter Jim DeRogatis who broke the original story about the sex tape, as well as the 2017 about the alleged sex cult has gone on record saying that covering R. Kellys legal issues has taught him that …nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody.
After that Coachella clip made the social media rounds, Vince Staples tweeted:
I just got a text saying R. Kelly people is looking for me. Guess it’s time to get security, the Pied Piper is coming….
His mentions erupted with jokes and Chapelle Show gifs, but at least there werent many people arguing that the man behind Feelin On Yo Booty is a musical genius, and therefore, above reproach. At least weve gotten that far. Finally. In 2018.