In a recent episode of Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast, Timbaland sparked outrage with his remarks about R. Kelly’s status as the “King of R&B,” despite the artist’s convictions on multiple sex crime charges.
Timbaland shared his perspective on the matter, emphasizing the need to separate an artist’s art from their personal life. He acknowledged R. Kelly’s undeniable impact on the R&B genre, stating, “R. Kelly’s the King of R&B. We all know that, man.” Timbaland went on to question the widespread dismissal of R. Kelly’s musical contributions, asserting that the music itself should be appreciated independently of the artist’s actions.
“Music is a feeling, it stands alone,” Timbaland added. “Music is something that doesn’t have race; it brings people together. It doesn’t come with drama. It’s a place of enjoyment, a feeling. So, don’t bring drama into music. Leave that outside.”
However, Timbaland’s comments were met with severe criticism online, with some accusing him of supporting R. Kelly due to his own alleged romantic feelings for Aaliyah, whom R. Kelly married in 1994 when she was only 15 years old and he was 27. Twitter users expressed their disdain for Timbaland’s stance, citing his previous statements about Aaliyah.
“Timbaland is okay with R. Kelly’s music because he himself had the same thoughts about Aaliyah. He’s said it,” one critic tweeted. Others pointed out the disturbing nature of R. Kelly’s actions, especially regarding his relationship with Aaliyah, and questioned how Timbaland could overlook the potential signs of pedophilia in the artist’s early music.
While R. Kelly is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for sex trafficking convictions in New York, he faced further legal consequences with a second federal sexual assault case in Chicago, resulting in an additional 20-year sentence in February. A grand jury found R. Kelly guilty on six of the 13 federal charges, including child pornography charges related to the sexual abuse of four girls, three of whom were minors. Additionally, he was charged with producing sex tapes involving his 14-year-old goddaughter.
Timbaland’s controversial remarks have generated significant backlash, raising important discussions about the boundaries between an artist’s work and their personal actions. The conversation surrounding the moral implications of supporting artists with a tainted past continues to be a contentious and evolving topic in the music industry.