Racism and cancel culture: Should R Kelly’s music be banned?

Garikai Dzoma Avatar

If you missed it, famous American singer Robert Sylvester Kelly, whom you probably know as R Kelly has added a new label to his name. He is now a convicted sex offender after being found guilty by a jury of his peers of numerous sex-related offences. Thanks to the world we live in, that’s probably going to be the only thing he is known for from now on. Even his Wikipedia page was promptly edited to include the sex offender title right in the first sentence of his bio.

There is no defending his conduct. He has been found guilty and the accusations he faced are too many to ignore. There are pending charges in other jurisdictions where he will almost be certainly found guilty too. The man is a rapist who assaulted underage women there is no defending that.

The era of cancel culture, racism and knee jerk reactions

I am, however, concerned by some of the reactions to the R. Kelly saga. Even before he had been found guilty there had been some movement to get his music banned and removed from platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. In fact, Spotify once removed him from their catalogue over these allegations long before he had even been convicted. Now that it’s official that he is a sex offender the movement has regained momentum.

Again, I am not defending R Kelly’s behaviour I am just concerned by the cancel culture attitude that seems to apply to mostly black people while white offenders tend to get a pass in instances like this. More often than not their cases do not even go to court. There hasn’t been an attempt to ban Johhny Depp’s movies from various streaming platforms even though he is a “wife-beater“.

No one has made two seasons of Jeff Epstein or a Harvey Weinstein documentary and put them on Netflix. The British tabloids that haunted Meghan Markle are remarkably silent when sex abuse allegations touch a member of the royal family who also happens to be very white. Spotify didn’t remove Phil Spector’s music from their platform even though he so happens to be a convicted murderer. Of course, Mr Spector is white. Jim Gordon another celebrated artist butchered his own mother his music is right there on Spotify and no one is talking about banning his music.

The sad truth is a lot of horrible immoral people also happen to be great artists. I bet you if we go digging we will find that Elvis Presly snorted cocaine (that makes him a criminal), the Beatles violated some laws too (that makes them criminals), a lot of artists beat their wives and violate the law.

Yet the most vitriolic demonisations tend to be reserved for blacks with their crimes and misdeeds repeated on racist networks like Fox News with a macabre flourish. The racist undertones dished out by the anchors and commentators are unmistakable while people like Roger Ailes, who committed his crimes at Fox, get a pass and a grudging five-second coverage.

It’s alleged Da Vince committed “crimes of sodomy”. Why are we not tearing his paintings from Museums around the world and paying millions to acquire them instead? I think there is a need to separate a man from his art unless said art is glorifying his despicable deeds. Why should I stop being inspired by the “World’s Greatest” or find comfort in “The Storm is over” just because a rapist sang them?

I think this is cancel culture gone too far. R. Kelly is a horrible sex offender his music is brilliant, well some of it. I don’t particularly like the sound of Your Body’s Callin’ they can ban that for all I care.



  1. Joko

    You see my lad black people will always be black. They is a reason why they were slaves for a very longtime ,they is a reason why the whole African continent with the exception of Ethiopia was colonised , they is a reason why most black people live under the poverty datum peg BLACKS ARE AN INFERIOR RACE!!!😁😁

    1. Garikai Dzoma

      Wow! I keep learning new things every day.

    2. Laywoman

      Sad but kinda true in the sense that most black people choose to be inferior. But there is a potential for us to change if we just work on it.

    3. Anonymous

      I guess some of u are still intellectually colonised. Instead of fighting for what’s just. You have resolved to believe u deserve it because of the color of your skin.wow

    4. tjaymac

      Gare gare mutsvage musiyano uri pakati pa the, they, their na there mukuru

  2. D1vant

    Excellent writing

    1. Soundsard

      I don’t like his music either. I often download free ringtones

  3. Anonymous

    its quite sad…ive always said in most cases blacks we tolerated but once a single spot is seen, there is no going back, then you will realise you really are black to them…not only crime related, everywr even at work etc and whites also happen to have an inside rule abt supporting n covering for each other in pain n joy, right or wrong, i wish we could all come to that as blacks…be there for on another..
    im not saying support R Kelly for his violations.

  4. King Todza

    I will NEVER condone Ranganai Kelly’s behaviour in a million years but his music (the songs I have listened to) is out of this world. His talent is unquestionable and that is what he was about in the entertainment industry. It’s sad that he didn’t listen to his own music and model his life after the same. This is where I advocate for separating talent from character. He must be jailed for his character – let us enjoy his talent. Gifts come from God for men to use, character is our gift to God to show gratitude. Sadly, Ranganai failed to upload the right files after downloading so much from God.

  5. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    We must always take time to make balanced assessments, before we start calling everything that happens to a black person racism. Who started the “Let’s Mute R. Kelly”, movement? Black people. https://www.muterkelly.org/team

    Even white people have been cancelled for despicable behaviour, as was the case with Peewie Herman. This was way before it was called cancel culture and it was an even quicker backlash. Late last year, or early this year, Piers Morgan received backlash about Meghan and was out.

    I think there is confusion between press coverage and cancelled movements. The press, good or bad, may raise awareness that will result in a cancel, but it is not always true. You must remember that allegations about R Kelly’s sexual abuse were raised more than a decade and a half ago, even featuring in a 2005 episode of the Boondocks, yet he was only cancelled just now. That’s a very sloooooow cancel, if you ask me.

    Nonetheless, how are the Brits supposed to cancel Prince Andrew? Fire him? Lol

    Personally, I still listen to whatever music feels good regardless of what the artist, may or may not have done. If it makes a person feel good to not listen to criminal artists, good for them, but I think those should be personal choices. I once asked a #MuteRKelly cousin of mine if they still listened to Paul Matavire, since he was convicted of rape and guess what, they still did and it was “a different scenario”. Besides, it is easy to give up something when you won’t actually incur any inconvenience.

  6. Anonymous

    The funny thing is that not once is it mentioned in this article is how every time his music is streamed and played on radio the funds were used to systematically terrorize and assault black women. Please remember that this was his second chance. Even after a video of him raping and urinating on a 14 year old was put out, he beat the charges and STILL went on and assaulted women and boys. You could have just played your songs quietly on your own but you have written an entire article spelling out why black woman are undeserving of protection or justice all for the sake of stepping in the name of love. If this ever gets traction you will wish you could “Turn back the hands of time”

    1. Garikai Dzoma

      How am I saying black women don’t deserve protection here? I repeatedly condemn what this monster does at every turn and still, that sounds like support to you? This is the lack of nuance I am railing against. Listen to the lyrics of the songs I mention above for example. You have a gospel song like He saved me. It’s a moving song about God’s Grace why would we ban that? Please help me understand what listening to that song has against women. I have two daughters whom I love and protect. I treat my spouse with the utmost respect. I also do the same with my mother and sisters. I was brought up in a household where I did the dishes with my sisters and firmly believed they were my equal-even though secretly I thought my elder sister was superior to me.

      FYI the women he raped are probably going to be going to civil court to sue this idiot. That money from the streams of his songs will probably end up going to them and other women to help them with their pain hopefully and to help them get a beat of healing. It won’t change what he did but maybe it will help them move on with their lives. Also most of the money goes to rights holders anyway and not R Kelly. In any case he has a wife dependents too. You realise that? So should they starve because their father was a monster. As I said arguments like yours are driven by blind rage and tend to be simplistic when all is consideredIt’s no different from the defund the police campaign sounds good on paper but not in practice.

      1. Anonymous

        True that

      2. 🖤Bvumavaranda🖤

        I honestly always find the argument of revenue generating amusing when put in Zim context really. These R Kelly songs from yesteryear were downloaded on YouTube and shared amongst peers via bluetooth and other PANs. So, purely for honest debate’s sake, it’s okay to continue listening to the music we already have in our phones & PCs since it’s not generating revenue for the paedophile correct?

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