R. Kelly’s Daughter Opens Up About Father in Rare Interview

For a long time, Buku Abi ran away from the pursuit of music.

Although she is the daughter of one of the most famous and successful singer-songwriters in pop music, her father is also one of the most notorious: He is R. Kelly, currently in prison, faces multiple counts of sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

“I think you’ll see a different side of it than someone who looks at it from the outside and sees the glitz and glamor. I saw the heck of it,” 21-year-old Abi, born Joann Kelly, said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “I don’t want to be in this industry.”

Even before she was born, her father was watched over by his interactions with young women: He was secretly married to his then-patron, Aaliyah, when the R&B sensation ended was just 15 years old in 1994. But when Abi was a kid, while Kelly was still a hit-by-hit platinum star, he was also on trial, accused of child pornography (eventually) he will be acquitted in 2008).

Abi said going to public school for the first time as a teenager was a challenge – there she heard stories about her father that she had never heard before.

“It’s normal at home, you’re living a life with your parents; Your mom and dad aren’t going to get into all the bad things that can happen outside of the home,” she said, “but the kids at school don’t necessarily care. Fifth and sixth grade was when I started learning the hard part of it, the not so good part. I think that was the hardest part for me because I went with this image of my father (was) and my family (was) for a long time. “

Things were so bad at school that she even considered suicide. But even though school was where her life almost ended, that’s also where she felt it really began: She recalls singing on stage in high school during a performance, she said, “feeling good.” It feels like a literal drug.”

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“I need more than this,” she added. “Obviously I can’t keep running away from this anymore. Since then, I’ve been in it and it really saved my life.”

Entering the music business comes with another challenge for Abi: She can’t escape the fact that R. Kelly is her father. She no longer contacted him and said that being his daughter was like “a double-edged sword”.

“I definitely face challenges – people want to work with me despite him or people don’t want to work with me just because of who he is,” she said. “I have certainly encountered turmoil… being judged for no real reason at all, based solely on associations. I tried to get over it. I do art, it saved my life so nothing can really stop me.”

Abi decided not to use the name her parents gave her in her career. She settled under the stage name Buku Abi about three years ago after first going by the name Ariirayé. For the past five years, she’s been working hard on her debut EP, “Don’t Call Me,” which was released this March. Her sister, Jaah Kelly, produced the album, which resonated with SZA and other millennial artists in the alternative world of R&B.

When it comes to making music, she doesn’t deny that’s where she and her father connect: “There’s a lot about him as an artist that inspires me.”

“He’s made mistakes in his life and other things he’s been facing, but when it comes to that, I can’t take that away from him,” she said. “That’s what will always keep us connected.”

Abi used to think that she and her father would mend everything. With her previous stage name Ariirayé, she collaborated with him on the song “Wanna Be There,” a plea to mend their broken relationship. It appeared on his 2015 album, “The Buffet.”

“When you conquer the world, I just want to be there / But no matter how successful she is / When you need someone to lean on, I just want to be your shoulder,” R. Kelly sings to Abi in the song .

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“I was in a place where I was really trying to have a relationship with my father,” she said. “But it was very complicated at the time, as always. It was a great experience, I’m glad I did, but it’s not what people think, and that’s the lousy part. It’s not a big kumbaya moment like this. “

R. Kelly is currently in a New York prison after he pleaded not guilty in federal court to allegations that he sexually abused women and girls who attended his concerts. we are there. He has been accused of using his reputation to recruit women and girls into illegal sexual activity, and has also been charged in Chicago and Minnesota for separate cases. While he was covered up by allegations that he abused women for years (an allegation he denied), scrutiny from January’s critically acclaimed Lifetime documentary Survive R. Kellywhich details many of the charges against him, which led to new investigations and new charges (among his legal troubles was also a backlog of child support. , including Abi).

Abi says she tries not to notice the daily updates about her father: “I don’t let it be a part of my everyday life.”

“(We) don’t have a relationship, so I don’t want to test him out,” she said. “Personally, I don’t go through it all and read it. I keep myself from it.”

Abi currently lives in Atlanta and appears on the reality series WEtv Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta alongside her mother and R. Kelly’s ex-wife, choreographer Drea Kelly.

“Just watching my baby grow up to be this young woman and not apologizing for who she is and what she stands for and what she believes in, is really just her own artist and own one’s art rather than trying to be or chasing after existence. R. Kelly’s daughter – she’s really doing this on her own and that’s what gives her pride,” said Drea Kelly. “I am very excited.”

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But Drea Kelly, who was introduced in Survive R. Kelly and has accused her ex-husband of domestic abuse, has also been unhappy with what she saw when the public blamed Abi for Kelly’s alleged misconduct.

“If your mother has an addiction, should people judge you for your mother’s addiction? … People will say no, but why would anyone do that to my baby simply for who he is? ” said Kelly, who had three children with the singer. “I taught Buku, I taught all my kids… you don’t wait for the world to give you a shot, you go out there and take your picture.”

Abi said the evil words she heard at school that nearly ended her life prepared her for what was to come: “Almost growing up gave me a suit of armor.”

“I just want people to know that, at the end of the day, the stereotypes you may have against other people, whether it’s about their race, their sexuality, their financial status, don’t judge one person. book by its cover because nine times. out of 10 you are completely wrong,” she said. “I want to be an example of that.”

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