As enthusiastic supporters of all of R. Kelly's music and 22-part video hip-hoperas, it's obviously not escaped our notice that Kellz is currently standing trial on fourteen counts of child pornography for allegedly taping himself engaged in sexual acts with a girl who, at the time, may have been as young as 13 (the girl who prosecutors claim is in the video says it's not her, and Kelly's lawyers have long maintained that his image was added using CGI, possibly by haters).
Clearly these are serious allegations and, if true, would make R. Kelly, the Man, an evil, reprehensible human, deserving of whatever prison sentence or public shaming Chicago's justice system sees fit. Not on trial, however, is R. Kelly the Artist, who's already been convicted by the court of public opinion — of being fantastic. Really, since his music is so beloved, is there really any way for anyone, say, a potential juror, to separate the man from the artist? Robert Sylvester Kelly from the guy who gave us "Ignition (Remix)"? The defendant, who faces fifteen years in prison, from the composer responsible for both "Heaven, I Need a Hug" and "I Like the Crotch on You"? No. But the attorneys and judge on the case still need to pick a twelve-member jury (with four alternates!), and they started yesterday. How's it going so far?
"Oh, I've heard he's the Pied Piper. He's a musical genius," said one candidate — later excused — during her questioning, reports the Chicago Tribune. When told by the judge that she could also say negative things about Kelly, she offered, "He and Jay-Z don't get along" (this has always been kind of a sticking point for us, too). A "balding man in his fifties" was let go because he admitted he was "more likely to acquit a celebrity than a regular member of the public" (i.e., a regular member of the public who didn't write "I Believe I Can Fly"). The process was also reportedly hindered by a "urine smell" in the courtroom ("You need a lime disk in there … or Febreze," quoth one assistant state attorney).
According to AP, no R. Kelly fans are likely to make the cut, which we suppose makes sense — but once you take away everyone who loves his music, who does this leave? Just people who sound like they'll probably convict him. By yesterday's end, only three jurors had been selected: a woman married to a Baptist pastor (she was once the victim of a home invasion; she pressed charges), a man in his fifties who identified himself as a "Christian," and a thirtysomething white male accountant and father who wrote that child pornography is "about as low as you can get" on his questionnaire. Needless to say, none of this bodes well for a 23rd chapter of Trapped in the Closet anytime soon.