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17 For '17: The Artists We Talked About

17 For '17: The Artists We Talked About

17 For '17: The Artists We Talked About

Written by BET Staff

Published 3 weeks ago

THE GOOD. THE BAD. THE UGLY. HERE'S WHO GOT OUR ATTENTION IN 2017.

We have finally come to the end of another year, and man, was 2017 one hell of a run. While the nation crumbled at the tiny hands of one orange man and Hollywood’s vicious cycle of predatory behavior was exposed, this year in music brought its share of interesting content. We caught the hilarious memes, power moves, rap beefs and eye-opening scandals. But more importantly, we witnessed the rise and/or fall of some of the industry’s biggest names. From the most influential and sexiest personalities to the controversial and villainous figures, here are 2017’s most talked about artists, as told by the experts, enthusiasts and influencers who know them best.

KENDRICK LAMAR

 

He understands all aspects of what the music business is about, he understands what the culture is about, he understands what authenticity is and he knows how to bring it from the old to the new. And that’s when you win. When you do things that are going to get across to everybody and not one type of person or one type of crowd. [DAMN.] reached everybody. That reached worldwide. And that’s the type of music that he makes. So, when he called me, it just showed how much he knows what authenticity is about. And he shows that he understands what hip-hop is about and the people that came before him. He respects that.

And at the end of the day, Kendrick makes music for everybody – young, old, white, Black, doesn’t matter what color you are. So I was happy to be a part of the project because of that and because of the fact that he understands where he comes from.

–– Kid Capri, DJ (as told to Kai Miller)

Rihanna

 

For a large part, Rihanna's success was predestined. After being in the media's eye, she wanted to transform her identity into a being a mogul. I think she wanted to put her hand in beauty and fashion even more because she knows she has that dominance and is an inspiration for many girls. By going into Fenty Beauty, which was a great thing for her, and furthering her relationship with Puma, it solidified her as being more than just a singer. She's everything in one now. 

By her collaborating with these brands and making her lines accessible, it separates her. It shows the industry that women can do this, too. She dictates what she wants to do. And it's so powerful for people to see that. She's setting the blueprint for a lot of women in the industry and it's going to be beautiful to see how she evolves in the future. 

–– Wanna Thompson, Music Journalist (as told to Kai Miller )

XXXTENTACION

 

For me, I’d never produced rock; I did the “Save Me” record on his album. I’ve never personally been challenged as a producer as hard as I was with him, cracking and creating that grunge sound he was looking for. It took about a month to do that one record, but it happened and I was happy that it did. So, being around him in an atmosphere like that, it pushes you to want to do better and create something good because you know a lot of people will be watching.

He knows what he’s looking for. In terms of production, I had freedom. But there was definitely a direction he wanted. I sent him a lot of references, and he was very strong on what he wanted and did not want. So we finally got “Save Me,” and “Save Me” opened the doors for other records like the “Dead Inside” record we also did as well too. And that was just spur of the moment, going off of emotions, going off vibes. It just really pushes you. You’re not working with a traditional act, someone who’s just gonna get on a one-two beat and call it a day. You gotta go more diverse, more intricate.

I think, simply put, he’s here to stay. And I think it’s gonna open a lot of doors for new acts and talent. South Florida has so many new artists coming up, a lot of them underneath X himself, and a lot of them are independent. It’s going to open a new threshold for a lot of artists, producers, talents and acts. It’s gonna be big. It’s a revolution. Complex talked about this as well. They called it the new “punk era” of rap music. They hit it on the head, I feel like. It’s gonna be a new wave of everything coming through and running through Florida. And hopefully, Lord willing, he’ll continue to be the pioneer of it all.

I don’t really look at the controversy; we never focus on controversy. I just focus on the art, that’s it. There’s always gonna be controversy. “If no one’s talking bad about you, you didn’t make it.” He’s 19. Let’s just really think about that. He’s 19. We haven’t had acts like this in a long time, who are doing what he’s doing and has such a following that he has, an active one, at that. It’s not computer-generated, not industry planted. It’s amazing to see someone who’s 19 with so much more potential and growth to do even more. Just let that sit in for a second.

–– Natra Average, Producer of XXXTentacion's "Save Me" and "Dead Inside" (as told to Iyana Robertson)

JOE BUDDEN

 

Jazmine Sullivan's "Burn" is the song that comes to mind when I think of Joey. Contrary to popular belief, Joey actually loves love and happiness. I know sometimes it doesn't come off like that to people, but he just supports, loves and embraces love. Joey's always in a feel-good mood. In that song, she talks about feeling that burn, and that's love, baby! That feel good. That's how Joe is.

On a personal level, he's just absolutely amazing to me. I think he's everything. I never really looked or focused on change or growth for him because I've never wanted to change anything about him. But, I will say that love fosters growth, so I've watched him grow into a more open, nurturing and patient person. He's very passionate, and sometimes when he expresses himself, things get misconstrued. I've watched him become more patient with people when they don't understand what he's trying to say. He doesn't crumble under pressure; Joey's very black-and-white. He stands strong in his opinions and beliefs, and that's one of the most attractive things to me about Joey. He doesn't come home and pay attention to what people are saying on social media or memes. He enjoys all of that actually. Joey is low-key a clown. Everything that people on social media find funny, he finds funny, too. He laughs at himself.

He's just the perfect definition of an open book. Joey is very transparent and has always been open about his life and the hurdles he's overcome. It's all made him who he is today, and that came along with [Everyday Struggle]. He tells it how it is even when people don't want to hear it or when a guest comes on and they give him an answer he feels could be better. Or even if he feels like he's knocking knowledge, like, "Let me tell you from my experience."

He's very passionate, so some people may get offended or feel like he's hating on them. In all reality, he's keeping it real and that's his job.

Joey, I definitely look forward to this journey we are embarking on and the opportunity to raise this beautiful boy. I couldn't have picked a better baby daddy! I hope we continue to grow as human beings, parents, lovers, business partners, friends and all that good stuff!

–– Cyn Santana, Model, Former Cast Member of "Love & Hip-Hop: New York," spouse to Budden (as told to Diamond Alexis)

JAY-Z

 

I've read Jay-Z’s book, Decoded, and listened to many of his projects, and he's had a progressive career. So I guess that’s why 4:44 wasn't that much of a life-changing album to me. It was actually right where he was supposed to be. We've only been able to judge him as an artist, as far as what he raps about — his environment, personal life and business-wise. 4:44 proved that his growth as a man and as an artist is on the right track in 2017. I don’t see retirement for an artist like him that’s had so much impact and paved the lane he has for so many who came behind him. Jay will do music until he dies. He did a project with Linkin Park, so he might venture off into other genres again, but he’ll never stop his craft. I mean, he executive produced the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby, which was amazing. There’s really nothing Hov can’t do.

Even as far as making club bangers and party jams, it’s something he can still do, but unintentionally. Like with Magna Carta Holy Grail, he wasn't intentionally making club bangers, but he did. I don't think that was his goal. Hov is done with trying to impress the club. He's rapping about his current events, his life and his business. He's a financial rapper, now. [Laughs.]

I’d 100 percent want a collaborative album with him and Beyoncé, too. Bey is an artist that has grown tremendously from album to album, musically and vocally. Jay has done so much outside of music, and for the simple fact that they are two of the most creative musical minds and implement the best creative directors to curate the tours is magical. They’d kill that together. But for 2018, I’d rather see him lay low and enjoy the fruits of his legacy. Hov has nothing else to prove.

— DJ Komari, Platinum Engineer, Producer and Official DJ of Dreamville’s Ari Lennox  (as told to Diamond Alexis)

JANET JACKSON

 

It’s been an amazing year for her. She stepped back into the scene and decided to do this tour, and I think some people had their doubts with it. And she made it through; she did 56 shows in 97 days and shut it down and killed it every night. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of discipline, schedule-wise, physically, mentally, all of that. I think that we went into with 100 percent, and I think it showed.

Janet, first of all, she’s 51 years old. She’s had such a long career, and I think she’s at a point in life where I don’t think she needs to do anything. So I think that when she came back this time around, it wasn’t to prove a point, it was just to have fun, to live and to do what she does. And I think she did it amazingly.

We’re in a new era for musicians, where it’s not about age, it’s not about race, color, sexuality, nothing. It’s just showing that you can do anything you want if you put your heart into. And she’s up there shining right now at 51 years old, working and doing things that not even 20-year-olds are doing on stage. I just think she shut down all the molds and she’s paving her own way and paving the way for everyone that’s coming up behind her.

She was brought up in an old-school mentality where you work for something you want. You have to have talent to do so. Sometimes I feel like the kids nowadays, they get things quickly or without that hustle. So I think with her standing up there at 51 years old, being in the industry for over 40 years, that speaks for itself.

I’m not sure where she can go from here. But I will say, once you’re the queen and you sit on that throne, you own it. She will own it until she decides she wants to pass the crown. And we’ll just sit around and watch.

— Preston Meneses, Makeup Artist, Friend to Jackson (as told to Iyana Robertson)

GUCCI MANE

 

A decade ago, I would have seen Gucci being successful, but not to the magnitude that he is now. I always knew he was a star, but not as big as he’s grown. After prison, his work ethic never changed. He's definitely a workaholic and he's a great strategist, which I think has made him so big and so successful. When it comes to working, not much has changed, though.

And what’s kept his sound so relevant today is that Gucci does keeps a good balance of the old, original trap sound that him and I started. He’s dabbled in other sounds and current stuff. He'll do songs with artists like Fifth Harmony and pop records, then he might do some R&B. But he definitely stays true to the trap origin he came from. I think he does a good job of balancing it all out. He should have been had a Grammy. He's so influential to the music game for the last 10 years.

Right now, he's looking like Superman. He's overcome a lot and he's in a really good space right now. He's making music for his enjoyment because he loves to do it. It's not out of trying to keep the lights on or pay the bills or anything like that. I think Gucci is in a very, very good place right now, and he's overcome all of the really big obstacles he’s faced. Next up, I think he's going to be a movie star. I feel like he's going to go into some acting. He's done so much in music already and he's definitely going to continue to do music and do well. But for 2018, I think we might just see Gucci on the big screen.  

– Zaytoven, Grammy-Award winning producer, longtime friend and collaborator of Gucci Mane (as told to Diamond Alexis)

CARDI B

 

Cardi B will stay relevant years from now simply because she is unfiltered. She just goes off the hip. She doesn't care. That's what makes her a great artist. One thing the game was missing was someone who was actually telling the truth, and she does that. She has no reason to lie because she comes from the bottom, so honestly that's all her music is: truth. When she says that line in "Bodak Yellow" that if she walks past and don't speak it's because she don't mess with you — I mean, she done did that to me before [Laughs.] And I'll be like, "Damn, is she mad at me?" So, she's just real.

Cardi’s sound is authentic, too. She doesn’t play around with it. She likes dirty, ghetto sounding music. There isn’t any crazy, dainty-sounding stuff. Keep it ghetto. Cardi's hard. She's one of the homies. Coming up next, she’s got some missiles and some nukes. She doesn't settle for anything. Musically, she's lit. If she's not happy with something, she's constantly working to make it into what she wants. She's over-delivering right now.

I see her definitely returning back to television next. Movies, television, fashion, everything. Cardi is a renaissance woman for this new era, and she can do it all. She isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I wouldn't be surprised if she came out with her own clothing line or something at this point. I can't keep up with her my damn self. Belcalis is lit, and I'm so proud of her. That's why she's winning, because her realness makes people feel like they've already met her and know her. They're invested into her that way.

Cardi, all you need to do is make 2018 even better than 2017. More Grammys, more plaques and more shmoney!

– J White, Producer of “Bodak Yellow” (as told to Diamond Alexis)

BOW WOW

 

What accomplishments did he make? Did he make a new accomplishment to make Jackass of the Year?

The legacy is going downhill, the legacy is not moving uphill. We all want to leave legacies behind, but at whose expense? What happens is that people like blowing smoke up other people’s butts and they don’t keep it real. The bad part about it is, that people get so wrapped up into themselves. An entertainer’s job is to entertain who? Your job is to entertain me, not to entertain yourself. So when you get so twisted up in you, and you get caught up in your own smoke and mirrors, that’s what happens, those are the things that happen to you. You have to remember, he’s supposed to be an entertainer, along with all the other people that do stuff like that. They get so involved in themselves, that the people don’t even matter and they end up making asses out of themselves.

When you’re placed in these platforms, you have an obligation. People have chosen you. Because there were many people — he wasn’t the only kid doing music — but he was chosen, and he was blessed to be given that. So you have an obligation to the people. And every kid looked at you; this is how they wanted to be. They want to look at your life now, but what are you showing them? It’s a complete turn-off, because you want to act like the donkey of the damn day! I’m not even hating, it’s just real. Do you know how many times a day I want to go off on somebody, and really curse their behind out? But I have to be mindful of people that watch me. Even though I want to eat your ass up right now. You have a sense of obligation and you have to remember that. You were chosen.

So yesterday’s news, in this case, will not sell today’s paper.

–– Debra Antney, Founder and CEO of Mizay Entertainment and Be 100 Radio (as told to Iyana Robertson)

USHER

 

I love Black people, I love all Black people. I think it’s really important for us to realize what information we’re putting out, even if it is online, even if it’s trivial, even if it’s for the purpose of a like or a retweet. And I think that the way we had the conversation surrounding Usher, for me at least, was critical because it really underscored how much a lot of people really don’t know about sexual health. It really taught me that people, for a couple reasons, were OK with criminalizing medical conditions, that people thought someone’s medical condition was a joke. And in fairness, I think because Usher is a celebrity, people just try to make jokes about it and that it was trivialized. But there are people on the opposite end of those jokes who are dealing with it on a daily basis. So when we think about Usher sleeping with multiple people — probably, with celebrity power dynamics I’m sure we can assume certain things — the one thing I want to caution to people is how medical conditions are actually acquired. Because if people statistically understand herpes, there are different types of herpes, many people live with herpes and people don’t know that they’re living with herpes. So, I think people just kind of need to be careful when they’re discussing things about sexual health, especially if we aren’t holding ourselves to the same standard.

One of the things that I noticed was people placing the duty of someone’s sexual health on other people and not on them. So, one of the things that I always tell people is, yeah, you should feel that you have the right to know about someone’s sexual health information. But the truth is, unless you are actually seeing someone’s paperwork, you have no idea of someone’s medical status. And, so because of that, it’s always encumbered on us, during a consensual situation obviously, we have to make sure that we are protecting ourselves and our bodies right. The last thing I remember is that there was nothing actually proving that Usher had herpes, which really muddied the water. My thought process was, even if he did, what is the next conversation? Are we then protecting ourselves from people who we are consensually engaging in sexual intercourse with?

My opinion is that someone like Usher should definitely become comfortable with talking about sexual health at large. With that said, the way Usher was immediately vilified, I don’t even blame him if he doesn’t think that’s the proper space, or a safe space to do so. The way we treat people living with, I’ll say specifically with HIV, is like we’re still living in the 1980s, like we’re still living with the “gay-related immune deficiency syndrome.” We talk about sexual health as if there hasn’t been an advance in technology and science and as if someone is going to die tomorrow because they received a positive diagnosis of whatever the sort. I think Usher would be great in having a conversation about accurate health sexual information and I think that’s whether or not he tests positive or negative.

— Preston Mitchum, International Policy Analyst, Writer, and Adjunct LGBT Health Law and Policy professor at Georgetown University Law Center (as told to Iyana Robertson)

AZEALIA BANKS

 

From an outsider looking in, I think [Azealia Banks’] year in music has been extremely controversial and problematic. She’s always had a very open and vocal relationship with her fan base, which I think is great. But there could’ve been a little more music making than anything else. I would’ve liked to see a cohesive project. I would have liked to see her collaborate with her female contemporaries, particularly some of the ones that she supposedly admires.

I’ve had intimate conversations with [Azealia Banks] that concern not just her musical career, but her views towards the female state of rap and my problem with her erasure of women like Cardi B’s Blackness. The fact that we still have to question Cardi B’s Blackness is a marker that we have so much work to do. Afro-Latinos are not represented. That’s not something Azealia could argue if she wanted to. In my conversations with Azealia, she’s said in the past that she sees herself in Nicki Minaj, but does not see herself in Cardi B, both of whom are two very light-skinned, Afro-Caribbean women.

I can’t make a sound diagnosis, but I will say they’re markers of a lack of equilibrium or holistic mental health in some of what Azealia Banks has had to say in the past. She made that very visible when she had that conversation with Ebro in the Morning and covered grounds on reparations and why she has to continuously grapple with the fact that darker-skinned women, particularly in hip-hop, aren’t being nourished [or] backed by their male counterparts. All of that is going to play against you. You’re going to come up against those problems and those problems are also liable to affect your emotional intelligence, mental health, capacity for sound thinking and inner peace.

We’re always going to have this conversation about who’s who of the world and how much sexism, racism and classism plays a role. Azealia Banks is far too f**king talented to be where she’s at for her not to be backed by both her female and male counterparts. She is the bottom of the barrel as far as oppression is concerned. She is a Black woman, queer and in hip-hop. She’s brilliant, has an opinion and very vocal about that. That makes her a problem child in this industry. Has she collectively been “blacklisted” by the industry? That’s not a hard thing to believe, but I think Azealia Banks is her own worst enemy.

I support her work and I praise her genius. At the same time, if we’re going to have a conversation about uplifting women, you can’t speak down on your own colleagues. I think Azealia Banks, five years from now, will still be producing work and traveling the world on the strength of her word. But I don’t see [her] — and I hope I’m wrong — dropping an album that everyone is going to be talking about. I see Azealia Banks being a successful independent artist, unfortunately having to nurture herself.

— Marjua Estevez, Associate Editor, Billboard Latin

MIGOS

 

“Bad and Boujee” laid the ground for everything. It had percolated on Soundcloud in 2016, and I think after Donald Trump got elected, people found it especially comforting. Once the memes started, it was out of here. So by the time Migos released Culture in January, the timing was good. They’d had the biggest hit of their career, and they had a definitive album in the chamber, ready to drop.

On Culture they’re at their best: Offset with amazing melody writing, Quavo being charming. Takeoff is an essential instrument that balances out everything.

The Migos had always taken what they’d done seriously, as art. They’d been playing shows and recording non-stop for years. So once they had a major hit and the ball started rolling, they were very ready to pick it up and throw it. They’ve been ready to say "yes" to every opportunity.

— Naomi Zeichner, Music Journalist

SZA

 

It was just really a time where we could welcome the voices of other Black women. Solange really set up the stage for that at the end of last year. And people were really thirsty for that Black woman perspective. When SZA came on the scene, there’s always been this big mystery around her, you really didn’t have to much to go on. You could either take it or leave it. She’s very humble with her delivery. And when she delivered it, her kind of candidness and her charm, that really resonated with people, especially with Black women. She’s kind of just telling it like it is. She’s not too structured. We need that rawness. Everyone is tired of the cookie-cutter appeal.

R&B has a lot of different layers and a lot different colors if you allow yourself to enjoy them. There’s a kind of a beauty in her letting her emotions speak through whatever she’s doing with her vocal chords. It’s not meant to be Whitney Houston. It’s not meant to be Jazmine Sullivan. It’s meant to be what she’s feeling. And you really feel it when she’s emoting on the track. 

— Stacy-Ann Ellis, Music Journalist (as told to Kai Miller)

REMY MA

 

She accomplished so much, she opened a lot of doors for hip-hop, not just for females but for hip-hop period. She was able to bring together Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, Cardi B, Young M.A, Monie Luv, MC Lyte, Lady of Rage, who else, so many more — I don’t want to forget nobody — all on one stage. I don’t think that was ever done in hip-hop and I think just by her doing that, it opened up a clear lane for so many other females after that point to go forward and be successful. To their credit, when she gave them that platform, the audience was happy to see them and they embraced them. But I just think that with Remy being in the position that she was in, so many people get in that position and they close the door and they keep it all to themselves, but she shared her platform. She also signed a multi-million-dollar deal with a major label this year. She also released her record with Lil’ Kim that’s doing extremely well. She had a great year, man.

I feel like the females were discouraged for a long time. There was no female rappers for a long time; it was very, very, extremely limited. Now, when I cut on my phone or when I turn on my radio or when I go to listen to music, female rappers are dominating the game right now. I just feel like Remy is able to inspire so many women. Not to talk bad about nobody, because I wish everybody well, but I just notice how since Remy’s been home, so many women feel like, “I could do it, Remy did it.” You know what I’m saying?

Remy is from the true school. Whether she wants to admit it or not, she’s from the true school of hip-hop, which is: have your pen game sharp and be ready. Get out here and make money, be flamboyant and be entertainers, but this is hip-hop and hip-hop is a culture, hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do. Within this culture, you always gotta be ready. So, from my opinion, she was just ready like she was supposed to be, she did what she was supposed to do. You consider yourself an artist, you always gotta be ready and I think that aspect of the game is always going to be there, whether anyone wants to admit it or not.
I just want to see her continue to grow and do bigger things than what she did in 2017, which is going to be hard because she did a lot in 2017. I want to see her continue to grow because I think her purpose is definitely bigger than rap music.

— Papoose, Hip-Hop Artist and Husband to Remy Ma (as told to Iyana Robertson)

 

NICKI MINAJ

 

Nicki Minaj had a great 2017. In the early part of the year, we didn’t hear too much from her, but she’s really closing out the year with a bang. I think the finish strong quote really applies to how she carried herself this year. [Her year was great], considering that her fourth album isn’t even out. She’s still been able to remain relevant, been speaking her mind, and holding true to herself.

I think Nicki Minaj’s role in 2017 was iconic. That video of her getting on the airport when she said, "you b*****s can’t even spell Prague," is still a meme, and it’s probably gonna carry into 2018. She remains the queen that she is, and her bars continue to hold her up.

What easily gets misconstrued with the “Break the Internet” issue is a lot of people see it and don’t get the concept behind it. It’s supposed to be really controversial, scandalous and hyper-sexualized. And I think that [Nicki Minaj] is a great person to embody that. When I was talking with her she said: "I post what I want, I say what I want. Don’t come to my page if you don’t like it." It’s important to have a Black woman that is of her stature that believes in freedom of speech. Especially in the era we’re moving in, we saw the rebirth of the Black woman in mainstream media. So, what she does in terms of speaking her mind freely and hyper-sexualized photo shoots, I think it’s important to see and necessary.

— Liza Dye, Comedian, Writer of PAPER Magazine’s “Break the Internet” Cover Story

MEEK MILL

 

I think that what’s happening to Meek Mill is shining exposing what’s happening to so many black people every day. Meek was sent to prison because the system is broken. What people are starting to see is this is bigger than the artist. Judges have way too much influence to ruin people’s lives over probation violations. People see what’s happening to Meek and they see what’s happening to people in their family; it’s just that Meek has money, notoriety and clout.

When you think about probation, it seems like it’s a ticket out of jail, but it’s really a trap. It’s some one watching over your shoulder for years or decades.

With all of the attention on Meek’s case, it’s [opening the door] to make systemic changes in Pennsylvania and across the country so that thousands of people who are sitting in jail for no reason, can be free.

In Jay-Z’s op-ed, he said that if we were to treat people more humanely that are on probation, we could literally shut down jails. People in Philly have been organizing around probation and parole reform for years, and I think [Meek’s case] gives us the opportunity and the political landscape to be able to move things forward.

— Clarise McCants, Criminal Justice Campaign Director, Color of Change

R. KELLY

 

I don’t think [R. Kelly’s allegations] had any impact at all. When you look at how quickly Russell Simmons was brought down and the charges became public, or Matt Lauer, or Harvey Weinstein — all these people have had to pay serious repercussions in terms of seeing their careers completely derailed. I reported the first seriously documented allegations against R. Kelly in Dec. of 2000. That was 17 years ago. As of this month, Live Nation is still booking him on concert tours; Sony Music refuses to comment; radio stations across the country regularly play him. I don’t see that he’s had to face the repercussions everyone else has. What’s especially horrifying about that to me is that I continue to hear from three sets of distraught parents a couple of times a week, who have been trying to get their daughters back for [years]. There are young women in peril right now, which is very different than some of these other stories. In many of these cases, they happened years ago.

Music seems to be in a different realm from film, food, Hollywood and politics. Music is full of bad boys and has been from day one — Elvis Presley, Dave Lewis, James Brown, Chuck Berry and on and on. People don’t care because in music, it’s almost “expected.” But Mark Anthony Neall, who is an African-American studies scholar and great pop music writer, has said, if it had been one white girl that Kelly was victimizing, this would have been a different story. Black girls do not matter to our society. The victims in most of these other stories are attractive, white women. I don’t think [Kelly’s] victims are seen as victims because they’re young, Black women.

I have always been an investigative reporter and a music critic. Investigative criticism is a really important field, as we’re seeing it now. My whole career has been based on the notion that every one is a critic. All of us, to some degree, have to be investigative critics when the subject matter of the art is dealing with the alleged misdeeds of the artist. It’s been right there for R. Kelly since Aaliyah’s debut album — which he entitled Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. He was engaged in a sexual relationship with her at age 15. What do you think “Trapped in the Closet” or “Ignition (Remix)” is about? For him, the last 25 years had meant: my pleasure comes first and I don’t care how many young women I hurt.

Unless he’s indicted, I don’t think anything real is going to happen. And I’m not confident that he’s going to be indicted. I think that partly because he’s been around so long [and] partly because it’s been a long time since he’s done anything groundbreaking creatively. His star is fading naturally. He’s not filling venues anymore, but he’s also not facing justice. You had Sam Smith, after performing on Saturday Night Live, showing up to the after-party wearing a Kelly t-shirt. None of the artists for whom he’s produced platinum-selling hits — Celine Dion, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, who is a survivor herself — has spoken out against him. I don’t understand why the music industry, the radio industry, the music media and the concert industry is not having any semblance of a conscience in questioning this artist that every other industry is having. Even the state of Alabama voted against a predator. To me, music is the most forward-thinking and progressive art form. So why is music not speaking out against R. Kelly? It bugs the s**t out of me, because I’m sick of being the only one.

–– Jim DeRogatis, Investigative Reporter, Writer of BuzzFeed's "R. Kelly Is Holding Women Against Their Will In A 'Cult,' Parents Told Police"

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