R. Kelly In Concert - Brooklyn, New York
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'Surviving R. Kelly,' Part 1: How Fame Shielded Him From Accountability Early In His Career

Part 1 of the Lifetime docu-series dives into Kelly’s childhood and how he allegedly preyed on young girls early in the 1990s.

Readers note: This recap may be triggering to those who have experienced sexual assault.

New unsettling details about R. Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse of black girls were unveiled in Lifetime’s latest documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’ The first two installments of the six-part series, produced by writer dream hampton, premiered Thursday night. So far, it is an eye-opening exposé of the Pied Piper who’s been under mainstream criticism since Buzzfeed’s 2017 report on his “alleged cult” and the rise of the #MuteRKelly movement. Activists say the allegations mirror classic sex trafficking tactics. But Kelly has consistently denied numerous accusations since the 1990s.

Part one of Surviving R Kelly dives into Kelly’s troubled childhood and how the singer began using his circle to assist in his schemes to prey on teen girls, including late singer Aaliyah and survivor Lizzette Martinez.

While growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Robert Kelly was a timid child, ashamed of his illiteracy, according to his brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly. But he was also musically gifted. “It took his mind away from reality,” Carey said, as there was also a dark side to their childhood. As children, both Carey Kelly and R. Kelly were molested. The singer told journalist Tavis Smiley in a 2012 interview, he was abused by “people in my family” from ages seven to 13. “Child sexual abuse confuses power and control with sex,” clinical psychologist, Candice Norcott said in the film. As child victims become adults, they may exhibit abusive behaviors too, Norcott added.

“No he didn’t talk about that, but you knew about it, because it came out in the music,” said Dr. Lena McLin, Kelly’s former music teacher at Kenwood Academy. McLin noticed Kelly was “aggressive in some of his sexual language” when writing songs. But after Kelly ascended to superstardom, his issues with sex and power exacerbated, those around him claim.

One witness to this was Javonte Cunningham, a former background singer, who met R. Kelly in 1990 when she was 14 years old. She recalled seeing Kelly performing a sexual act with a teen girl in the studio while he was recording the Public Announcement song “Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ).” Music producer Craig Williams said he heard Kelly was picking up girls at Kenwood Academy high school and middle school. It wasn’t a mystery why adults didn’t intervene, said writer Mikki Kendall, who was a girl when she saw Kelly talking to students at the school. ”No one cared ‘cause we were black girls.”

Mikki Kendall, a culture critic, said by the early 1990s, Kelly would have been sublime to teen girls. He had been the lead singer of the R&B group Public Announcement. In 1993, Kelly went solo with his debut album 12 Play, which featured his lusty chart-topper “Bump N’ Grind.”

His success allowed him the privilege to develop other artists. One was his manager’s niece, 12-year-old newcomer Aaliyah. Kelly produced her 1994 debut Age Ain’t Nothin but A Number, a title that many speculated was a nod to a relationship between a young girl and an adult man. In the documentary, Cunningham made the shocking claim that she saw Kelly having sex with Aaliyah on a tour bus during that period, which the singer’s mother Diane Haughton called “lies and fabrications” in a statement Wednesday.

A marriage certificate (reported by MTV, and by VIBE), revealed the truth. On the document, Aaliyah’s age was printed as 18, when she was really 15. Kelly's tour manager Demetrius Smith, who was present at the ceremony in Maywood, Illinois, said he had papers forged for them. “Aaliyah looked worried. Scared,” Smith described. “I failed both of them.”

As outlined by the documentary, R. Kelly paid Aaliyah $100 to agree not to pursue legal action and her parents had the marriage annulled in two months.

“Where was the outrage? Where was Essence? Where was Ebony? Where was the local news?" asked writer Jamilah Lemieux, who criticized the media for not holding Kelly accountable for marrying a child. “Why didn't the culture say ‘something is wrong’?”

Journalist Ann Powers pointed to the history of famous men who dated and married underage girls, as Kelly wouldn’t be the first. For instance, rock musician Jerry Lewis married his 13-year-old third cousin Myra, in 1957. Elvis Presley was 10 years older than Priscilla Presley, and they met when she was 14. He courted her until they married when she was 21 in 1967.

After his relationship with Aaliyah, Kelly reportedly groomed non-famous girls while touring and ordered his entourage to recruit them at malls, Carey Kelly said. One victim was Lizzette Martinez, who met Kelly at a mall in Miami when she was 17 in 1995. His bodyguard gave Martinez Kelly’s phone number and he invited her out to dinner. Martinez, who wanted to pursue a singing career, saw this as her big break. But one night, while she was in the studio with him, he forcefully kissed her. In part two, Martinez and other women go deeper and recount similar abusive experiences with Kelly that haunt them until this day.

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‘Chappelle’s Show’ Removed From Netflix At Dave Chappelle’s Request

Chappelle’s Show is no longer streaming on Netflix, at the request of Dave Chappelle. The comedian reached out to the company to ask them to remove the series, for which he received no residuals, and they quickly complied.

On Tuesday (Nov. 24), Chappelle’s posted an Instagram video from a recent stand-up show, called Unforgiven, where he further explained his reasoning for not wanting the Viacom/CBS-owned show to stream on Netflix. “[ViacomCBS] didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract,” he explained of the sketch comedy show. “But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never have to tell me. Perfectly legal ‘cause I signed the contract. But is that right? I didn’t think so either.

“That’s why I like working for Netflix,” he continued. “I like working for Netflix because when all those bad things happened to me, that company didn’t even exist. And when I found out they were streaming Chappelle’s Show, I was furious. How could they not– how could they not know? So you know what I did? I called them and I told them that this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.”

Episodes of Chapelle's Show had been streaming on Netflix for about a month. While the showw has been wiped from the streaming outlet, episodes remain on Comedy Central, CBS All Access, and HBO Max.

Watch Chappelle’s full clip below.

 

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50 Cent, Joy Bryant, Nicholas Pinnock Talk New Season Of ABC's 'For Life'

Months after its debut, ABC's For Life has returned for a new season. Based on the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., a former-inmate-turned-lawyer, the drama series' protagonist, Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock), fights for his freedom and safety in and out of the courtroom while fighting for that of his fellow inmates. As Wallace inches closer to finding substantial evidence to exonerate himself, he reconnects with his ex-wife Marie (Joy Bryant) and pregnant teenage daughter Jasmine (Tyla Harris).

"When I met with Issac, I almost couldn't believe what he was saying to me. He went to jail, became a prison rep, came back created a case law through other people's cases, and worked his way out of jail?" said Curtis "50" Cent" Jackson in a recent interview with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. "You know more people that saw things not going well [in prison] and said I'll take a bad situation before I take the worst situation and cop-out because they know the system will just wash them up and that will be the end of it."

The first season of For Life essentially covers the first 9 years of Wright's experience while in jail. This season, topics like Black Lives Matter and social justice are addressed and Wallace finally reenters society. "There are 5 different Aarons I'm playing," shared British actor Nicholas Pinnock. "One is Aaron who is the prison rep. One is Aaron who is the father and husband to Marie and Jas(mine). One is Aaron with the prison warden and his relationship with her. Another one is Aaron just as an ordinary prisoner. And then you have Aaron the lawyer...and then in Season 2, we have a sixth layer. There's Aaron on the outside."

An unspoken source of strength lies in Marie who has supported and served as a "ride or die" figure in the first season. When asked about addressing those who don't agree with her prior decision to move on to Wallace's friend, Bryant pointed out her character's humanness. "Marie had to make some hard choices when Aaron was sent away. They may not be things that people agree with. 'Oh, she's with his best friend' or whatever, but she was left holding the bag, literally," she pointed out. "Things aren't always so black and white. People have to make decisions based on where they are and what they feel they need to do at the time and everyone can have whatever opinion they want."

Watch VIBE's full interview with Bryant, Pinnock, and Jackson, who also co-executive produces the show. New episodes of For Life premieres Wednesdays at 10 pm ET on ABC.

Interview's music bed provided by Gus.

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‘Black Panther’ Sequel Will Reportedly Begin Filming In Atlanta Next Year

Filming on the highly anticipated sequel to Black Panther is set to begin next summer. Marvel Studios will start shooting the Ryan Coogler-directed sequel in July 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The series are the priority, “ a source told THR of Marvel’s film strategy going into next year. “Ramping them up takes a lot of focus. The movie machinery is well established.”

The shoot will last at least six months. Princess Shuri, the character played by Letitia Wright, who plays King T’Challa's sister Princess Shuri, could take on an expanded role given the death of Chadwick Boseman.

Narcos: Mexico actor Tenoch Huerta will reportedly join the cast, while Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Windsor Duke are also expected to return for the second installment of the Marvel film.

In September, Black Panther’s executive producer Victoria Alonso denied rumors that Boseman would appear in the film via CGI technology. “There's only one Chadwick, and he's not with us,” Alonso said. “Our king, unfortunately, has died in real life, not just in fiction, and we are taking a little time to see how we return to the story and what we do to honor this chapter of what has happened to us that was so unexpected, so painful, so terrible, in reality.”

Boseman, 43, passed away from colon cancer in August.

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