Social media users in Kenya are finding it hard to believe that controversy-ridden American R&B singer R. Kelly is illiterate.
The award-winning crooner, 52, first admitted to being illiterate in May, 2004.
The “Happy People” musician told Vibe Magazine at the time that he “feels no shame about being illiterate”.
“For the record, R. Kelly is not the best at reading and writing. I don’t have no shame in saying that,” he said.
“I went through a lot of stuff coming up as a kid. We were in and out of school, moving all the time, and I never got the fair chance to get that full attention when it came to school.
“Sometimes I don’t feel my spelling is correct like everybody else’s. I’m a little slower when it comes to things like that.
“My talent has overwhelmed me — it automatically beats the pen and pad to the punch. Lyrics come just like that, out of nowhere. God blessed me with a talent I don’t see anybody else with,” said the superstar.
R. Kelly would, five years later, revisit the topic on his illiteracy.
Speaking at the Midwest Music Festival in Chicago in 2009, the Grammy winner said he was ridiculed by people close to him because of his inability to read or write.
“My cousins and brothers used to tease me ‘you can’t even read right. How [do] you think you’re going to come up?’ The only reason I graduated from grammar school is because I had a great jump shot. I went to high school and [my teacher] told me ‘you will one [be] of the greatest writers of all time.’ I believed. You [have to] believe it. You can’t believe [anything] if you’re hating. You can’t achieve [anything] if you’re hating,” he said.
And yet again, in a January 2016 issue of GQ magazine, R. Kelly said his parents had lost hope in his ability to grasp concepts in class.
“Other kids could read, other kids could write, other kids could spell, they could do math. I felt like an alien, I felt like an outcast. I felt like, ‘What is going to happen to me?’ My mother couldn’t answer it. My stepfather wasn’t really interested in it one way or another. And my brothers and sisters were so young at the time they wouldn’t do nothing but tease me about it. I was the ‘dummy’: ‘How you gon’ do this? You can’t even read!’ R. Kelly said.
He said his daughters – much later – helped him get better with reading.
“Since my daughter showed me voice texts on my phone, I’ve gotten a lot better. I’m not an A student, I’m not even a B student, but I’ve gotten a lot better with the reading because of texts. And I can voice-text and say whatever I want to people. And then they text me back and I take my time and I can read through it,” he said.
Of late, R. Kelly has found himself in deep legal trouble following accusations of sexually abusing young girls. Until the recent legal troubles, Kelly’s net worth was estimated at $150 million (Ksh15 billion). Currently, estimates show that he only has $100, 000 (Ksh10 million) with him.
Kelly’s financial situation recently came into the news when he was initially unable to pay $100,000 bond after turning himself in on 10 counts of aggravated criminal and sexual abuse in Cook County, Illinois, on Feb. 22. According to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the charges against Kelly allegedly involve four victims, three of whom are minors, with claims going back to 1998. Kelly ended up spending the weekend in jail, before eventually posting the money and being released on Feb. 25.
Kelly further opened up to King about his finances, telling the journalist that he went to the bank alone for the first time just “three weeks to a month ago,” where he learned of his financial situation from a bank teller. While some speculate that Kelly’s apparent lack of cash flow is due to settlements he’s paid out in previous cases, he called those allegations “a lie.”
“Here’s the deal. So many people have been stealing my money. People was connected to my account,” he told King. “I went by myself for the first time to Bank of America. Didn’t know what I was doing. Didn’t know what the hell was going on… Because I was so tired of not knowing where my money was.”
“I had like $350,000 in the bank and I told her, ‘Look. Take that. I’m gonna start a new account and that’s the way it is,'” Kelly continued, of how much money he has left. “She said, ‘OK. It’s gonna take six to seven business days to clear.’ Does that make sense?”
On Wednesday, Kelly returned to jail for unpaid child support in the amount of $161,663. Kelly’s publicist told ET that the singer offered to pay $50,000 to $60,000 in court and set up a payment plan, but the judge denied the offer.
“He was disappointed. He felt rejected. He was down. You could see the air go out of him. He never expected that. He was never looking forward to that. He never knew that was coming,” the publicist said, adding that the singer’s team is actively working on coming up with money needed to get him released on bail. Kelly’s next court date is March 13.
In his CBS This Morning interview, Kelly told King that he doesn’t know how he can pay child support, alleging that he can’t work and that his ex-wife, Andrea Lee, is “destroying” his name. The pair share three children, Joann, 21, Jay, 19, and Robert, 17, all of whom Kelly said he has “zero” relationship with despite saying, “I know my kids love me. I’m in love with my kids. I love my kids.”
“How can I pay child support? How? If my ex-wife is destroying my name and I can’t work? How can I work? How can I get paid? How can I take care of my kids? How? Use your common sense,” he said through sobs and screams.