R. Kelly sat down with GQ Magazine for their new cover story to talk very candidly about his music, childhood and more. He talks growing up in the Southside of Chicago, not having his father in his life, about his book and even his relationship with Aaliyah. Take a look at some of the interview below and read the full story over at GQ.
He Talks about abuse:
The book says nothing about how this woman was connected to Kelly, other than implying that she was a regular presence in their home, but while we talk he refers to her as a relative. He doesn’t say this as though he expects it to be any kind of revelation to me, more as though he assumes I already know it. I wonder if he even realizes she wasn’t described like that in the book.
“At first, I couldn’t judge it,” he says to me, when I ask him if he realized at the time that a really bad thing was happening. “I remember it feeling weird. I remember feeling ashamed. I remember closing my eyes or keeping my hands over my eyes. I remember those things, but couldn’t judge it one way or the other fully.”
GQ: And did that change over time?
R. Kelly: “Over time, yeah. I remember actually, after a couple of years, looking forward to it sometimes. You know, acting like I didn’t, but did.”
GQ: How often would the abuse happen?
R. Kelly: “Oh wow. It became a regular thing. Every other day, every other week.”
GQ: How many years did it go on for?
R. Kelly: “As far as I can remember, about [age] 7 or 8 to maybe 14, 15. Something like that.”
GQ: Did anything in particular make it stop?
R. Kelly: “When I started having a girlfriend, I felt really bad about it. Then I started getting older and knowing that’s just not supposed to happen—family members. And I think it started getting scary for them because I just started acting really different about it, and I think it became a turnoff to them, and a scary thing.”
GQ: Was the person doing this still around in your life?
R. Kelly: “Absolutely. But eventually they stopped being around me.”
GQ: Are they still around now?
R. Kelly: “No, I haven’t seen them in so long.”
GQ: Did you ever have a discussion with them about it?
R. Kelly: “Tried to, but.”
GQ: How long ago was that?
R. Kelly: “Maybe eight, nine years ago. Didn’t want to talk about it. Didn’t own up to it. Told me, ‘Sometime when you’re kids, you think you’ve been through something, or did something, that you didn’t do, probably was a dream.’ Things like that. But it was definitely not a dream.”
GQ: They’re an actual blood relative?
R. Kelly: “Yeah. Yeah.”
GQ: What do you think now about what they did?
R. Kelly: “I, well, definitely forgive them. As I’m older, I look at it and I know that it had to be not just about me and them, but them and somebody older than them when they were younger, and whatever happened to them when they were younger. I looked at it as if there was a sort of like, I don’t know, a generational curse, so to speak, going down through the family. Not just started with her doing that to me.”
He Talks about Aaliyah:
GQ: Obviously the two of you became very close.
R. Kelly: “Yeah. Yeah.”
GQ: How would you describe that?
R. Kelly: “Uh, I would describe it as best friends. Deep friends. As far as we both loved music and wanted to be successful. She’s a Capricorn, I’m a Capricorn, my momma a Capricorn, her daddy’s a Capricorn, you know. It was just so much in common with each other.”
GQ: And these are difficult questions but would you say you were in love with her?
R. Kelly: “Yes. I would say I loved ‘liyah.”
GQ: But “in love”?
R. Kelly: “Well, there’s a lot of ways to be in love with a person. I was in love with my grandfather, you know. But yeah, I would say I was in love with Aaliyah just like I was in love with anybody else. But in a different, friend type of way.”
GQ: And she was in love with you?
R. Kelly: “I would think so. Absolutely. I would say that.”
GQ: As you know, people know that there was a wedding ceremony and you got married.
R. Kelly: “Well, because of Aaliyah’s passing, as I’ve always said, out of respect for her mother who’s sick and her father who’s passed, I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally. But I can tell you I loved her, I can tell you she loved me, we was very close. We were, you know, best best best best friends.”
GQ: But here’s what seems difficult from the outside. Sadly, Aaliyah can’t speak for herself, and people have what they think is a very clear idea of the situation—that the two of you got married, that you were having a sexual relationship. Right now, that’s the record as far as people are concerned. Those are the facts.
R. Kelly: “Right.”
GQ: So you not talking about it doesn’t feel like it’s protecting her or respecting her, it just feels like it’s protecting you.
R. Kelly: “Yeah, yeah. You know, I tell you this: I know Aaliyah’s not here and can’t speak for herself, but there was a time that she was plenty here, after that rumor and all of that stuff started. Plenty grown. She was 22 and could speak for herself. Her mother, her father, anybody else, could speak and say whatever they wanted.”
GQ: But with the documentary evidence, it doesn’t seem an unclear situation. I’m trying to understand your life, and if you explained the real situation, it would maybe make people understand better than the version they have at the moment.
R. Kelly: “Well, unfortunately when there’s two parties involved in any situation, both parties have to be respected. Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself in a way to respect someone else’s wishes, and to respect someone else’s passing…. People can say, ‘Hey, well, he’s just trying to protect hisself.’ Well, I have nothing to protect myself from. I’m still successful, and I’ve got an album out now, I’m gonna move on after this interview and go to the next interview and do another interview, and these questions are going to be asked. I did the best I could by writing my book and putting it out there for whoever wants to read about Robert. [Aaliyah is not mentioned in Kelly’s book.] Can’t satisfy everybody, unfortunately. I wish that I could.”
GQ: Did you do anything in that situation that you feel bad about or you feel was wrong?
R. Kelly: “Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That’s my answer forever: Absolutely not.”