Naturally, R. Kelly won’t go quietly. Billboard reports that he’s scheming to release a new album whether we want it or not. According to its sources, Kelly completed what would be his 15th album before Sony and RCA dropped him earlier this month following renewed backlash against the singer’s alleged sexual misconduct, and is now looking for ways to release it “imminently.” But given the reputation that precedes him, his options should be slim.
He might look into independent distribution, which would allow him to put out the album without any record-label involvement. (Billboard reports that he was allowed to keep all unreleased music, per the terms of his split from RCA.) There’s also the option to self-release, particularly on SoundCloud (though that’s less likely), now made easier by Spotify’s direct-upload feature that’s still in beta testing (and reportedly not yet available to him). Though it’s worth nothing that Spotify has twice made an enemy of Kelly, first by banning him from its playlists, only to walk back that policy change, and then most recently by implementing a new mute-button feature, which doesn’t specifically target Kelly but was undoubtedly inspired by the movement to mute him. Or he can try to find a label desperate enough to sign him to a new deal.
Either way, Billboard reports that Kelly and his team have been working on finding new distribution for this album for months, even before Surviving R. Kelly aired, suggesting that he anticipated that he’d be out of a contract. Even prior to the doc, Kelly had taken up partial residence at a Chicago warehouse that he converted into a recording studio, and was recently found to have violated city zoning codes to do it. Kelly’s last album was the 2016 Christmas album 12 Nights of Christmas. The only other music he’s released since then was last year’s straight-to-SoundCloud 19-minute rant that fell just short of being a confession.