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‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Part 2: The Price Of Protecting A Problematic Genius

The Lifetime documentary looks at the tactics Kelly used to manipulate his alleged victims.

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

In part two of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary, the R&B singer’s older brother Bruce Kelly makes a startling claim about why his sibling preyed on younger girls. “It’s a preference,” he stated. To him, Kelly just simply likes them younger. But really it's an excuse for Kelly’s alleged predatory behavior and denial of the accusations stacked against him. Kelly also used his music to gain the continued favor of the public, which allowed his behavior to go unchecked since the 1990s. But at what cost? Tearful accounts of physical, mental and verbal abuse from survivors such as Lizzette Martinez, who met him at 17, and his ex-wife Andrea Kelly, detail the long-term trauma that results when the actions of abusers are allowed to fester.

“Sex with him felt not natural," Martinez said, who lost her virginity to Kelly. “I felt like a sex object.” Martinez said Kelly also had people follow her. A year into their relationship, she found out Kelly was already married.

Andrea Kelly met him when she was a 19-year-old dancer who auditioned for his tour. Shortly after joining his team, she grew closer to Kelly as he showed his vulnerable side such as revealing his insecurity about not being able to read.

But what neither could see was that someone like Kelly could use vulnerability to build trust with his victims before gradually establishing control over them.

In the documentary, psychologist Dr. Jody Adewale unpacked that a manipulative person can start controlling someone with small requests, such as demanding someone call them “daddy.” Then more intense demands follow, like making the victim wear certain clothing and saying they can’t move around the house freely. “The first cycle of abuse is called the honeymoon phase,” Adewale said. This is when everything is given freely, financially and emotionally. But this is temporary. Soon the victim will be walking on eggshells.

“You don’t believe in your own sense of judgment,” Andrea Kelly said.

In Martinez's case, she said the singer demanded she calls him “daddy.” She recalled the time he dragged her down a hallway because she talked back to him. He also told her to perform sexual acts while his friends were in the back seat of a vehicle. But when Martinez had a miscarriage, Kelly wrote the popular hit song about her called, “You Are Not Alone,” eventually performed by Michael Jackson.

“In hindsight all of those songs, they’re real stories,” Javonte Cunningham, Kelly’s former background singer, explained in the film. “They’re about different people during those times and different situations that were occurring with him. So 'You’re Body is Calling,' 'Sex Me'; those are real stories. 'Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.' He meant that,” she continued.

Martinez eventually cut Kelly off after she caught Mononucleosis from him. She was in the ICU for two weeks and almost died. “He stole my life from me,” Martinez said.

For Andrea Kelly, once she was involved with the singer, he slowly began to isolate and control her, even on their wedding day.

“My wedding was a surprise wedding,” she said. Andrea Kelly described going to Colorado and entering a hotel room where there was a violinist and a cake. But her family wasn’t present and this wasn’t the way she imagined she’d be married. “He crossed that line from being generous to be controlling,” she said.

Although she noticed Kelly’s control issues, Sparkle, Kelly’s former background singer, still saw him as family. He was behind her most notable song, “Be Careful.” Sparkle thought she had a handle on Kelly until she introduced her 12-year-old rapper niece, to him. Sparkle feared the relationship was getting out of control once she found out her niece was going to his home and studio without her guardianship.

“He’s charismatic and an all-around nice guy, but Robert is a master manipulator,” Sparkle said.

Another alleged victim, Lisa Van Allen was 17 when she met Kelly during a video shoot. After, he asked her to come to Chicago where she would eventually stay. She revealed Kelly would have sex with her in his Chicago Trax Recording Studio, where there were multiple beds. “Robert would also film our sex acts, sometimes,” Van Allen said. “He would never ask if it was okay to film.” Kelly forced her to engage in sexual acts with girls as young as 14 and 16, she revealed.

One insightful point made by journalist Ann Powers was how Kelly used music to hide his behaviors in plain sight. One way is by creating inspirational songs, such as his No. 1 hit, “I Believe I Can Fly” so that fans can see him in a positive light. Another was by creating metaphorical, humorous and outrageous art representative of his real-life experiences, a tactic he used when releasing his 33-chapter opera Trapped in the Closet.

Ultimately, to be shielded from accountability for as long as Kelly has, the flaws of the legal system must also be called into question, which will be explored in the series' next chapter.

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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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