Every time R. Kelly opens his mouth in an interview, he loses more and more fans. Ever since accusations of molesting underage girls – particularly a sex tape of him allegedly urinating on a 14-year-old girl – began to bubble to the surface in the early 2000s, R. Kelly has taken an outspoken and completely clueless approach to proving his innocence.
In a recent GQ profile to promote his latest album, Kelly defends Bill Cosby against his rape allegations and feigns ignorance toward Dave Chappelle and his infamous 2003 R. Kelly sketch. But that isn’t even as bad as it gets. Past and present, here are R. Kelly’s most awkward and cringe-inducing interviews.
1.Vibe (May 2002)
This May 2002 interview, which ran in Vibe shortly after news of the tape went public, laid bare many of the accusations lobbed at Kelly and addressed some of his eccentricities. Apparently he likes to sleep in closets? But nothing hits as hard as his tear-ridden confessional in the middle of a White Castle: “I’m a real person, and I love people. That’s my problem. I let people into my world, and they fuck some things up. But I turn around and love them anyway…I forgive them because I want to be forgiven one day.”
2. BET Tonight w/ Ed Gordon interview (May 8, 2002)
Another piece that ran shortly after the accusations, BET Tonight host Ed Gordon didn’t shy away from questions about the tape, his marriage to Aaliyah, and how this scandal might hurt his career.
3. BET “R. Kelly Speaks” interview (September 16, 2008)
You know your interview is going in a bad direction when you have to ask someone exactly what they mean by “teenage.” This BET News special interview with Touré was supposedly the last time he’d be talking on the subject, and he used his time to show how sheltered and deluded his view had become. When asked about concerns from his brother and former manager about his supposed compulsion, Kelly had this to say: “People who don’t work for me say that, but people who do work for me don’t say that.” That’s that, then?
4. New York Magazine/Vulture (November 15, 2015)
Vulture ran this lengthy piece by David Marchese called “Is It Okay To Listen To R. Kelly? ” in promotion of his latest album The Buffet, and Kelly proved to be as awkward as ever about his checkered past. He brushes the “rumors” off his shoulder, talks about firing his brother and personal assistant for bringing “negativity” to the table, and when directly asked whether or not he has a sexual compulsion/problem he needs help with, he took a sharp turn of phrase: “I only have a problem with haters. Other than that, I’m doing well. I feel better than ever with my album The Buffet.”
5.HuffPost (December 21, 2015)
Someone on R. Kelly’s team thought it would be a good idea for him to appear on HuffPost Live to promote his new album The Buffet. As soon as journalist Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani began to ask him about the accusations and how his fans have reacted to them, he decided he was done with her “negativity” and awkwardly praised her as he exited the room. You do know the McRib isn’t out now, right?