What’s the story with that crazy new R. Kelly album?

R. Kelly has admitted he wasn’t behind the release — and prompt removal — of new album I Admit It on streaming services.

A previously unreleased album by disgraced musician R. Kelly appeared on streaming services over the weekend, before being promptly removed by Sony Music executives. Titled I Admit It, the album reportedly spanned 13 songs, including the 19-minute title track Kelly first released on SoundCloud in 2018. In the few hours after its initial release on the platforms, I Admit It was pulled from both Apple Music and Spotify. 

Shortly after the album appeared on streaming services, Sony Music — who manages the Legacy Recordings label to which Kelly is signed — told Variety that I Admit It was published briefly and unofficially, making it a bootleg album. Sony denied any knowledge of the album, despite the fact that it was attributed to Legacy Recordings in its accompanying credits. I Admit It marked Kelly’s first project since 2016’s 12 Nights of Christmas. 

R. Kelly in orange jumpsuit next to guard
Credit: Antonio Perez/Getty Images

In the wake of the album’s release, Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean told Variety that neither the singer nor his camp was not behind I Admit It, instead claiming that her client “is having intellectual property stolen from him.” Included in the tracklist was the previously released title track, which saw Kelly sing of “set[ting] the fuckin’ record straight” amid allegations made against him at the time. 

Addressing the album himself in an audio clip released today (December 12), Kelly said he hoped “people recognised my voice and know that” he wouldn’t record music in the midst of his legal battles. The Federal Bureau of Prisons likewise revealed that Kelly hadn’t been recording music from prison, where he currently remains for 30 years following his sentencing for federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges in June. 

It comes amid a particularly tumultuous few years for Kelly following damning accusations levelled at him during the Surviving R. Kelly documentary released in 2019. Since then, Kelly went to trial on numerous counts of sex trafficking in August of last year, before being found guilty the following month. In a separate case, Kelly stands accused of producing child pornography, which carries a 20-year sentence for each count.