As the uproar around R. Kelly grew in the wake of last weekend’s premiere of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a three part Lifetime documentary that levels multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer, a person who appeared to be Kelly — or someone who sings remarkably like him — took the mic at the Chicago nightclub V75, according to videos posted on social media.
Although Kelly’s birthday was actually Tuesday, the man tells the cheering crowd that it’s his birthday and “I don’t give a f— what’s going on tonight.” He also powerfully sings a few lines from Kelly’s 1993 hit “Bump N’ Grind.” A rep for the singer did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for confirmation that the man was actually Kelly.
TMZ reported that police received a call informing them that Kelly was at the club and there was a warrant for his arrest, but after officers arrived at the venue and made contact with the singer, they were informed there actually was no warrant.
Multiple times in the past, Kelly has been defiant as criticism against him has crested, so such an appearance would not seem out of character. In early 2002, at the height of the controversy around the sex tape that purported to show him having sex with an underage girl, he released a song attacking his detractors called “Heaven I Need a Hug,” and last year, amid claims that he had brainwashed young women and was holding them in an abusive “sex cult,” he released a similar 19-minute song called “I Admit It.”
Also on Wednesday night, Lady Gaga apologized for “Do What U Want,” her 2013 collaboration with Kelly, and said she will remove the song from streaming services. Despite years of petitions and calls for Kelly’s longtime label home, RCA Records, to part ways with the singer, he remained on the company’s roster at press time.
While criticism against the singer has reached its greatest peak in many years with “Surviving R. Kelly,” accusations of sexual misconduct against the singer date back more than 20 years. Most infamously, Kelly was charged with child pornography in 2000 after the aforementioned video surfaced (Kelly was cleared in 2008 after that woman declined to testify against him). In 1995, when he was 27, he briefly married the late singer Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time (in “Surviving R. Kelly” an executive who formerly worked with the singer says he forged Aaliyah’s birth date on the marriage license to say she was 18, and another witness says she saw Kelly and Aaliyah having sex). Multiple other reports have surfaced over the years.