R. Kelly, the disgraced R&B singer currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges, has managed to release a new album, provocatively titled "I Admit It."
The 13-song album, credited to Kelly as the main writer with "D. Johnson" as producer," covers usual Kelly terrain on tracks like "I Got It” and “Good Old Days” until the final three tracks, a 19-minute long triptych where he "confesses" to relationships with fans and straying on a partner, while obliquely acknowledging and protesting his long, sordid list of sex crime convictions.
"They're brainwashed, really? Kidnapped, really? Can't eat, really? Real talk, that s— sound silly," he sings on one song, referring to testimony that he ran what amounted to a sex cult.
Kelly first posted a version of those final three album tracks on Soundcloud in 2018. "I Admit It" was briefly available to stream on Apple Music and Spotify before both services pulled it down on Friday. The album is distributed by Ingrooves, which is part of Virgin Music Group, a division of Universal Music Group.
The label credited on "I Admit It," Legacy Recordings, is the back-catalog imprint of Sony Music. Sony dropped Kelly in 2019 following the release of the documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly." Sony said in a statement that "I Admit It" was a bootleg and not a formal release, and an attorney for Kelly told Variety that the singer isn't responsible for the album either, and he is "having intellectual property stolen from him.”
Kelly was a fixture in pop and R&B for much of the '90s and 2000s, releasing hugely successful singles like "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Ignition (Remix)," though allegations of sexual assault and abuse of minors dogged him throughout his career until his eventual federal convictions in June. His last official release was the single "No Problems" in September 2021.
Kelly will face an additional sentencing on an Illinois child pornography conviction in February.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.