Artist News

Ne-Yo still listens to R Kelly songs because he can “separate the artist from the art”

By | Published on Monday 18 July 2022

R Kelly

Ne-Yo has said that he still listens to R Kelly’s music despite being unsurprised that his fellow musician was convicted for abusing numerous woman and teenagers during his decades long career. That’s because, Ne-Yo adds, he’s “a person that can separate the artist from the art”.

Whenever creators are accused of committing particularly heinous crimes – and especially if they are convicted of said crimes – there is usually a big debate as to whether that means people should subsequently boycott that person’s creative output. Does continuing to consume that person’s creative work somehow mean you are endorsing their bad behaviour? And even if it doesn’t, are you inadvertently financially supporting them, and should that in itself be a cause for concern?

Kelly, of course, was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison after being found guilty in the New York courts last year of establishing and running a criminal enterprise in order to sexually and physically abuse women and teenagers. That conviction followed decades of rumours and allegations against Kelly, and is only one of several legal cases he is currently fighting, with another criminal trial in relation to the abuse charges due to kick off in his home town of Chicago next month.

In an interview with The Independent this weekend, Ne-Yo – currently promoting new album ‘Self Explanatory’ – said he was not surprised about Kelly’s conviction and sentencing, adding: “I pray this gives everybody who feels they were victimised by him a little bit of closure, on whatever pain was caused”.

But, he added, he does still play Kelly’s records from time-to-time because “you just can’t deny the quality”. Actually, I think you definitely can, but, in the wider scheme of things, it seems pointless laying into Kelly’s musical output.

“I have always been a person that can separate the artist from the art”, Ne-Yo told The Independent. “I don’t give a damn about your personal life, I don’t give a damn about what you’ve done wrong, or what you’ve done right – if I like the song, and it’s attached to a memory that means something to me, it has nothing to do with [the artist] as a person any more. It’s what this song means to me”.

He conceded that not everyone agrees. “I’ve been in parties where someone will turn on an R Kelly record and people will be like ‘boo!’”, he added. “[But] that’s [bullshit], because you know good and well that before this happened, you’d be rocking out to this song, just like everybody else. Anybody who tries to say R Kelly isn’t one of the best songwriters on the face of the planet because of what he did in his personal life, you’re looking at the wrong thing”.