R. Kelly’s lawyer said an album uploaded to Spotify and Apple Music on Friday was not authorized by the singer.
The 13-track set called I Admit It was released online Friday — appearing on streaming platforms as a new album. But hours after its release, it was no longer available.
“It’s an unauthorized release of music. It’s stolen music,” attorney Jennifer Bonjean told The Hollywood Reporter.
Bonjean says that “a police report was filed some time ago because his masters were stolen, but there’s not much of an appetite to investigate these things. People have had access to his intellectual property rights that they are attempting to profit off of, but unfortunately that does not include Mr. Kelly.”
“When he was arrested, he had studio equipment that was taken,” she added. “His masters are missing. The music is somewhere out there, but who has it and who has profited off it — we don’t know entirely.”
I admitted included the 19-minute track, “I Admit It,” which Kelly released in 2018 on SoundCloud. This time, the song was broken up into three parts to close the album, as he sings about the sexual abuse claims against him.
The album featured song titles like “Last Man Standing,” “Where’s Love When You Need It,” “Freaky Sensation” and “Air.” The album also included the upbeat, dance-flavored songs “I Got It” and “Good Old Days.” On “Planet” he sings about the current state of the world: “Police fighting people, people fighting police/Every time I look up children dying on the TV.”
The digital credits showed that Kelly wrote each of the songs alone, with D. Johnson receiving producer credit.
Bonjean said she spoke to Kelly on Friday about the release. She said this has happened in the past — where his unauthorized music is uploaded online, but that’s usually on YouTube and not Spotify and Apple Music.
“He kind of is like, ‘Yeah, this has been going on. I’m not surprised,’” Bonjean said of Kelly’s response to the unofficial release. “But, of course, it’s upsetting. It’s very upsetting to see your body of work out there in that way.”
Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison earlier this year following a trial in New York where the jury found him guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering. A second trial in Chicago ended with his conviction on charges of producing child pornography and enticing girls for sex.
Legacy Recordings – the Sony label that handles the archives of Sony-owned labels, including Columbia, Epic and RCA Records – was the label listed on the digital platforms for the album. But a representative for Legacy said “it did not issue this music.”
Sony and RCA famously dropped the embattled singer in 2019 two weeks after the viral and Emmy-nominated documentary series Surviving R. Kelly drew fresh attention to the sex abuse allegations against the singer.
Dec. 9, 1:50 p.m. Updated with comments from attorney Jennifer Bonjean
Dec. 9, 12:14 p.m. Updated with news that the album was removed from Spotify and Apple Music.