R. Kelly made some of the most well-received music of his era, including songs like “Ignition (Remix),” “I Believe I Can Fly,” and “Bump n’ Grind.” More importantly, though, earlier this year, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for child pornography. That followed 2022’s 30-year sentence for sex trafficking and racketeering.
The way Timbaland sees it, those two sides of Kelly can be separated, to the point that he still considers the controversial singer the “king of R&B.”
During a recent episode of Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast, Sharpe spoke about how he believes “you can separate art from an artist” before specifically mentioning Kelly. After he said he doesn’t believe you can “throw everything he’s done artistically away,” Timbaland said, “No you cannot.” Sharpe continued, “I believe you can separate the two,” and Timbaland chimed in, “Yes you can. I agree. I agree.”
Timbaland then elaborated:
“R. Kelly’s the king of R&B. We all know that, man. And it’s funny, I’m glad you talk about that, because I be having talks… everybody jump when you say ‘R. Kelly.’ I’m like, ‘So we just gonna ignore his music that he gave us, that we all jam to?’ No, we can’t do that. His art is his art. I’m not going to bash the man’s art. […] To me, we have to learn how to… I think, as a culture, we have to learn how to separate that.
And if I say, ‘OK, who can battle R. Kelly,’ I don’t want to see in the comments, ‘How you gonna have this…’ Don’t mix music up with personal. Music is a feeling, it stands alone. Music is something that don’t have no race. It brings people together. It don’t have no drama with it. It is a place of enjoyment, a feeling, so don’t bring drama into music. Leave that outside. His art is his art.”
Check out a clip of the conversation above.