Timbaland was a guest on Shannon Sharpe’s podcast Club Shay Shay last week. The conversation eventually turned to R. Kelly, the popular R&B artist convicted of sex trafficking, racketeering, child pornography, and child abuse in multiple states, and Timbaland agreed with Sharpe that it was possible to separate Kelly’s music from his crimes.
“R. Kelly’s the king of R&B. We all know that, man,” Timbaland told Sharpe. “Everybody jump when you say ‘R. Kelly’… I’m like, ‘So we just gonna ignore his music that he gave us, that we all jam to? No, we can’t do that.’ His art is his art, I ain’t gonna bash the man’s art.
“Don’t mix music up with personal,” he continued. “Music is a feeling that stands alone. Music is something that don’t have no race, that brings people together. It don’t have no drama with it. It is a place of enjoyment, of feeling, so don’t bring drama into music. Leave that outside.”
Kelly is currently serving 30 years in prison after being convicted in New York on racketeering and sex trafficking charges. This February, he was found guilty of producing child pornography and child abuse in Chicago and received a 20-year sentence to be served concurrently.
Timbaland and Kelly never collaborated, though Timbaland did produce several songs for Aaliyah, who was married to Kelly when she was 15 and he was 27. The marriage was annulled after it was revealed that Aaliyah’s age was misrepresented as 18 on the marriage certificate. In a 2011 episode of True Hollywood Story, Timbaland describes being “in love” with the 16-year-old Aaliyah when they met in 1995, though he says he did not act on these feelings.
The FADER has reached out to Timbaland’s representatives for comment.