When the R. Kelly verdict was announced this week, there were always going to be a lot of loud opinions on the matter.

The R&B artist was found guilty on on Monday, September 27th of several charges: sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, racketeering, and sex trafficking involving five victims.

One day later, Public Enemy’s Chuck D decided to weigh in on Twitter and it was quite the take. “Abused in his youth… an addict as a adult… Ike Turner served 18 months in prison.. Rick James did similar time,” he wrote.

“Ike came out a changed positive human being. How long should R Kelly spend in prison -and does a USA system give a man a chance for a man to change his world around?” No one is denying that rehabilitation is important but there’s a time and a place. “It’s not a sympathetic question at all,” Chuck finished by saying. “Not the least.”

Given that Public Enemy are famous for their fight for social justice through the decades, people were understandably taken aback by Chuck’s tweet. Yet when the hip hop star was criticised, he only doubled down, using the music industry culture to probe deeper problems.

“Twitter is cryptic where was people when every other song was revealing evidence of what was ok to program to black kids over radio?” he said when someone brought up R. Kelly’s awful illegal marriage to Aaliyah. “All you gotta do is read the titles the past 25 years of black songs and you get clues. His labels & radio knew what they was feeding.” Again, there’s a time and place.

Chuck continued: “Mixing grown folk lifestyle with black youth was so endorsed financed perpetuated as so urban cool by radio. Black audiences were abused while 25yrs poppin champagne in the sandbox. The boundaries were sloppy w head nods. That dude & others gave clues that the gatekeepers ignored.”

Backlash was swift, with many blue tick Twitter accounts calling him out. See for yourself below.

You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain. Such a powerful progressive figure in his 20’s, it’s saddening to see Chuck D become an R. Kelly apologist. It’s reminiscent of the decline of the Sex Pistol’s Johnny Rotten in recent years.

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