R. Kelly’s team told police in February that hundreds of the singer’s master recordings had been stolen from a storage facility in Illinois, according to TMZ, possibly shining some light on how a “new” Kelly album made it to market.
Kelly, imprisoned at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, is serving a 30-year sentence after being convicted in fall 2021 of sex trafficking and racketeering in a New York federal court.
He faces additional sentencing in federal court in Chicago in February after being found guilty in September on three counts of child pornography.
A man named Keith Calbert reported the missing masters, which he said were taken to California “nine months prior” by a couple of roadies, TMZ said.
Calbert said he later told the roadies they had to return the recordings, but was told it would cost him $160,000.
The situation was investigated but was closed with no arrests, TMZ said. Police estimated 300 to 500 recordings were taken, and Calbert valued them in the millions.
The recent 13-song release, titled “I Admit It,” showed up on streaming services last week. Sony said in a statement that “I Admit It” was a bootleg and not a formal release.
Jennifer Bonjean, an attorney for Kelly, told Variety that the singer wasn’t responsible for the album and was “having intellectual property stolen from him.”
Kelly sent a message about his music to the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week.
Bonjean told the Chicago paper that the message appeared to be authentic but was most likely dictated by Kelly to someone else who typed it, as the singer has claimed to be illiterate. “That’s how he writes me all the time,” she told the outlet.
“LEAVE MY MUSIC ALONE!!! They already got me in here,” the message said, with each sentence placed on its own line. “They took my voice.
They messed my whole career up. They took all my money. They took my kids away from me. They took me from my family, my friends and all of my fans.
I have had all my emails and phone calls stolen and shared with government witnesses and God knows who else.”
The message said that since Kelly has been imprisoned he’s been diagnosed with diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder, contracted tuberculosis, had COVID-19 twice and had two surgeries.
It alleges he was attacked while he was sleeping and wound up with a cracked rib and fractured jaw.
“I wish they would just leave my music alone, because it is all I have left, it’s all my fans have left,” Kelly’s message continued, again with one sentence per line.
“And they deserve to be able to listen to the music despite what people try and say about me, what they think about me or even do to me. So please, again, LEAVE MY MUSIC ALONE!!!”