On Sunday night R. Kelly reportedly live-streamed a new song on Instagram titled “I Admit.” In the nearly 20-minute song, the full lyrics of which can be found here, Kelly sings about how the sexual misconduct and “cult” allegations in the media are false, his own sexual abuse as a child, and how people speaking out about the allegations are trying to set him up. “I ain’t chasing these ladies, no,” he sings. “These ladies are chasing me.”
In addition to the allegations of R. Kelly’s “sex cult” first reported by Buzzfeed in 2017, several other women, including one who sued Kelly for allegedly deliberately infecting her with an STD, have broken NDAs and are speaking out about Kelly’s alleged abuse. But aside from the lawsuit Kelly has yet to see charges for these allegations, which raises of the question of whether or not “I Admit” can potentially be used as evidence against him in court.
Lyrics for violent rap music in particular have often been admitted as evidence in court, which are interpreted as being evidence more often than being interpreted as artistic expression. In 2014 the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that an aspiring rapper’s music (written years ahead of the trial) could not be used as evidence in an attempted murder trial. The court ruled that lyrics can only be used as evidence of guilt if they include a “strong nexus” to the crime being charged.
“I Admit” certainly includes a strong nexus to Kelly’s alleged crimes. He sings about how the parents of his alleged victims are just trying to take his money and in one case asked their daughter to be put on stage with him:
But this is my advice to you ‘cause I’m also a parent (parent)
Don’t push your daughter in my face, and tell me that it’s okay (my face, okay)
‘Cause your agenda is to get paid, and get mad when it don’t go your way (yeah, go way)
And on the details of his alleged “sex cult” as reported by Buzzfeed in 2017:
What’s the definition of a cult?
Whats the definition of a sex slave?
Go to the dictionary, look it up
Let me know I’ll be here waiting
Now I admit that I got some girls that love me to pull they hair (they hair)
Now I admit that they love me to talk dirty when I pull they hair (they hair)
But Kelly’s specific admissions regarding his conduct mostly amount to vague proclamations of “I admit I fuck with all the ladies, that’s both older and young ladies,” “I done fucked with a couple of fans,” and “I admit there are times when these girls so fine, they’ll chill with a nigga for a week.” He also sings that he was told to settle cases: “I admit I can’t say such and such / but my lawyers told me settle this (settle this) / Even though it’s bullshit (it’s bullshit).”
Criminal defense lawyer Ron Kuby tells Jezebel that while he can’t see the entirety of “I Admit” being admissible in court, he thinks if specific portions of the song were relevant to a future case then those portions would be admissible as long as they are presented in context and within the rule of completeness. For example, Kuby says if it was relevant to a specific part of a case whether Kelly had had sex with his girlfriend’s best friend (as he admits on the song), then that portion would be admissible. Though Kuby says “in the abstract it’s hard to say what would be admissible because the case has not been brought.”
Overall, and unsurprisingly, Kelly shouldn’t have written the song. “If I was his lawyer I would have advised him not to write this song,” Kuby says. “If lawyers controlled the world there would be no art.”