R. Kelly’s music used to induce feelings of happiness and familiarity. Now, on the odd occasion that his music comes on in a club, bar or social situation, people can’t help but think of the seedy stories surrounding the multi-platinum singer.
Beyond allegations and accusations, a video appeared in 2002 which seemed to show the performer urinating on an underage girl. The clip was sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times and the rapper subsequently denied he was the man in the video. However, he was already fighting allegations of having had an illegal marriage with late singer Aaliyah - when she was 15 years old.
Now, his ex-girlfriend Asante McGee has told her story which seems to back up claims made in a BuzzFeed News article in 2017 - that the singer attempted to create a sex cult of subservient women who would obey his every order.
Far from being underage, Asante was 35 years old when she first met R. Kelly. She was introduced to him by a member of his entourage in September 2013. However, it was not until January 2014 that the two began spending time together.
“We went to the mall and we laughed and talked,” Asante wrote for the BBC. “We just hung out like two old friends. Before I left, he gave me his number and we immediately started texting each other.”
In the following months, Asante would be flown out to various concerts in order to see R. Kelly while he was touring. However, their relationship was by no means exclusive. “The fact that he told me he was dating and sleeping with other women, it made me feel like he was doing his best to be honest with me,” Asante explains. “So I accepted that and decided to stay in the relationship.”
However, on the Easter weekend of March 2016, she flew to Chicago to see him perform. Having not heard from him for two days, Asante was suddenly told that someone would pick her up in a van. However, little did she know, her loyalty was about to be tested. “I ended up being locked in a van from 11 o'clock in the morning to eight o'clock at night,” she explains. “I found R. Kelly partying in the studio as if nothing had happened.”
After watching him in concert two months later in Dallas, she was expecting to be given a ride to the airport. However, the bus simply never stopped - until they arrived at a mansion in John's Creek, Georgia. “Welcome home, baby,” R. Kelly told her.
“I thought I'd stay for the summer because my kids were staying with family for the holidays, which happens every year,” Asante explains. "So with my kids not going back to school until the end of August, I thought, ‘OK, I can stay and spend some time with him for a few extra weeks.’ It was never a permanent arrangement in my mind.”
Asante is very clear with her accusations. She was never raped by R. Kelly, physical abuse was never a continuous theme and she didn’t judge him to be sleeping with any underage women at the time. However, he used his position to dominate her - and the other women who lived in the house under the same pretence of being in a relationship with him.
She was coerced, for instance, into performing acts she wasn’t comfortable with - such as engaging in threesomes. Furthermore, the level of control he exerted was beyond any level of acceptability.
The girls in the house, some as young as 18, were told when to use their phones, when to eat and even when they could use the bathroom. “We would have to text or call and ask for permission to use the bathroom,” Asante explains, “and if he didn't respond, you were allowed to come out of your room and stomp on the floor until he heard you.”
Even what the girls wore was controlled and R. Kelly once angrily grabbed Asante’s arm when she refused to fall in line with the other women and wear a tracksuit to go outside - in the 100-degree heat.
However, perhaps most bizarre was the woman who trained her, and the other girls, in how to satisfy their master. “According to both [R. Kelly] and her,” Asante explains, “they had been sexually involved together for 16 years, since she was 14 years old.” The odd arrangement put further strain on the relationship with R. Kelly accusing her of being belligerent and having “black woman syndrome”.
She had had enough of hiding snacks in her room and being bullied into performing lewd acts.
Despite suffering R. Kelly’s shouting, name-calling and intimidation, Asante found the courage to make a swift exit.
Asante McGee stayed with R. Kelly for only three weeks. However, her story gives credence to other women who are currently fighting to have their voices heard. Sadly, however, there was an early warning for Asante which she now regrets ignoring. “No, can you just call me Daddy,” he abruptly messaged her when she addressed him as “Rob”. Robert Kelly is undeniably better known by his stage name. However, whether he is better known for his music or his misogyny is up for debate.
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