Prosecutors in the R. Kelly child-pornography case have requested to see a new tape from the embattled R&B singer — but this time, it's a concert tape from the first date of his Best of Both Worlds tour with Jay-Z, which took place in Chicago on September 29. A review of the show that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times suggested that Kelly had made light of the criminal charges throughout the show.
In a review called "R. Kelly Flouting His Foes" that ran on October 1, Sun-Times writer Jim DeRogatis — who has been investigating Kelly's alleged predilection for young girls since 2000 — took Kelly to task for blurring "the line between art and obsession." Although Kelly didn't refer to the charges directly, DeRogatis wrote that they "[hung] over the concert," since the singer referred to them indirectly, playing the alleged crimes for laughs and sympathy.
His examples included a show-opening video depicting Kelly's tour bus followed by police cars; an e-mail message displayed on a giant video screen in which Kelly (who is married and has three young children) seeks a female companion who is "at least 19 or over"; dancers wearing orange prison-style jumpsuits in a mock jail cell; and a video backdrop of "flowing yellow water or rain" (some of the charges Kelly faces involve urination during a sex act). DeRogatis also noted that Jay-Z paid tribute to fallen stars like Aaliyah, whom Kelly married when she was 15, only to later have it annulled.
Kelly's attorney Ed Genson, however, denies that the singer was making light of the charges, and has released a statement that also ran as a letter to the editor in the Sun-Times on October 13. In references to DeRogatis' examples, Genson claims that "DeRogatis is so focused on Kelly's criminal case that he sees it everywhere — even in places it is not." The opening tour-bus scene isn't meant to depict a "police chase," Genson said. He also said that the dancers were wearing "heavy red silk robes," not orange jumpsuits, and that song in question took place in a cage, not a jail cell. He argues that the "flowing yellow water or rain" was intended to depict honey, not urine.
To clear up any questions, Genson said that a tape of the performance has already been given to the Cook County state attorney's office, who said that they requested it informally, not via a subpoena. Genson also accused DeRogatis of bias, since he's on the prosecution's witness list (as are several other reporters who have done investigative work regarding the singer and the charges).
"Kelly makes no apology for the exercise of his First Amendment rights to expression," Genson said in his statement. "The references Kelly made to his criminal case during the concert were precisely that: artistic expressions made in the courts of an artistic performance. None of these references were intended to offend or to make light of the criminal case pending against Kelly. If anything, the fact that Kelly has incorporated these expressions into his live concert performances and song lyrics demonstrate the depth with which the case has affected him."
Kelly is next due back in court on November 4.