All songwriting is personal. You’ve got to be willing to put your own heart on the line if you want to touch the hearts of your listeners.
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Thursday September 15, 2022
I hear a symphony: Lamont Dozier in October 1969.
(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
quote of the day
All songwriting is personal. You’ve got to be willing to put your own heart on the line if you want to touch the hearts of your listeners.
- Lamont Dozier, 1941 – 2022
On Tape

R. KELLY’s second conviction in a year, which all but assures he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison, was based in part on a VHS cassette anonymously sent to reporter JIM DEROGATIS 22 years ago, depicting the R&B superstar sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl and urinating on her. The tape, which has long outlived the technology used to produce it, has had a sordid, twisted, difficult life. It set DeRogatis off on a singleminded quest for facts and justice that would consume the next two decades of his life and would turn up numerous additional victims and horrifying stories. DeRogatis never stopped hunting, despite denials from Kelly and shrugs from the law enforcement and, yes, music communities. The tape was the chief evidence in a 2008 trial in which Kelly was infamously acquitted after the original victim denied that was her in the video and refused to testify. And here it was, this summer, back in another Chicago courtroom, where the same woman, now in her 30s, finally decided to testify, explaining that Kelly had paid her to cover for him but now “I no longer wanted to carry his lies.” Kelly was convicted Wednesday of six counts Wednesday (and acquitted of additional counts of obstructing justice). For the first time, the tape can be described without anyone having to use the word “allegedly.” Kelly did all this.

“Chicago should not be proud today,” DeRogatis said in an angry interview on Chicago television after the verdict was announced. “Chicago should be ashamed that this wasn’t shut down two decades earlier.” A lot of other entities should be ashamed, too, including the music industry, which laughed off the tape (sometimes literally) for years while continuing to support the career of a man who continued to use his music stardom to commit horrible crimes. People knew. Allegedly. But they knew. Kelly’s last major label album came out in 2016. It was a Christmas album, on RCA RECORDS. JENNIFER HUDSON, CHANCE THE RAPPER and RICK ROSS were among the artists who were still putting Kelly on their own tracks around the same time, when everyone knew, allegedly, but they knew.

It took a second reporter, DREAM HAMPTON, who put several of Kelly’s victims on TV in the 2019 Lifetime documentary SURVIVING R. KELLY, to force the music industry to finally stop it. RCA dropped Kelly literally days after the documentary aired. The doc also appears to have reawakened law enforcement’s interest.

There are potentially more trials to come, in Minnesota and Illinois, but the story can by and large be written, and the book closed, at this point. For the music industry, though, self-examination and reckoning lies ahead.

“Yes, he was a musical genius,” DeRogatis said Wednesday. “Yes, he had a tough upbringing and he was abused. But no one in the history of popular music has ever been convicted of charges this wide, this broad... The man’s a monster.”

Etc Etc Etc

BILLBOARD's Latin Power Players... ALLISON RUSSELL, BRANDI CARLILE and BILLY STRINGS picked up trophies at the AMERICANA HONORS & AWARDS Wednesday in Nashville. Strings was crowned Artist of the Year... GILLES PETERSON’s much-loved WORLDWIDE FM radio platform will “pause” new programming starting next month while “re-organising and re-evaluating the next phase and financing.” Archived shows will continue to be available... Owners of the building housing the long-running Cambridge, Mass., club the MIDDLE EAST are seeking approval from the city to tear it down to make room for a hotel (with space, they say, for new music venues)... The pop review site the SINGLES JUKEBOX has ceased publishing but promises to keep its archive alive.

Rest in Peace

Turn-of-the-century R&B singer JESSE POWELL, best known for the 1999 slow jam "You"... Folklorist and visual artist ART ROSENBAUM, whose two "Art of Field Recording" box sets, released by Dust to Digital in 2007 and 2008, are essential collections of American folk music... Guitarist DAVID ANDERSSON of Swedish metal band Soilwork.

- Matty Karas (@troubledoll), curator
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what we're into
Music of the day
“Pour the Wine”
Pink Siifu and Real Bad Man ft. Peso Gordon and Chuck Strangers
From Pink Siifu and Real Bad Man's "Real Bad Flights," out Friday on Real Bad Man Records.
Video of the day
“Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby”
Karam Gill
Streaming on Amazon.
Music | Media
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