R. Kelly infamously married the late singer when she was still a minor (the marriage was subsequently annulled). GQ managed to get him speak about her, extensively.
“Aaliyah? I heard first of all this soft voice, but very…a lot of charisma. And I saw her as a star the minute I heard her sing and dance. Saw her dance. She wasn’t the greatest dancer, but the dance moves she was doing were different than the other dancers that I’ve seen on television. And I said, ‘This girl’s gonna be a star, whether I work with her or not.’ ”
Obviously the two of you became very close.
How would you describe that?
“Uh, I would describe it as best friends. Deep friends. As far as we both loved music and wanted to be successful. She’s a Capricorn, I’m a Capricorn, my momma a Capricorn, her daddy’s a Capricorn, you know. It was just so much in common with each other.”
And these are difficult questions but would you say you were in love with her?
“Yes. I would say I loved ‘liyah.”
But “in love”?
“Well, there’s a lot of ways to be in love with a person. I was in love with my grandfather, you know. But yeah, I would say I was in love with Aaliyah just like I was in love with anybody else. But in a different, friend type of way.”
And she was in love with you?
“I would think so. Absolutely. I would say that.”
As you know, people know that there was a wedding ceremony and you got married.
“Well, because of Aaliyah’s passing, as I’ve always said, out of respect for her mother who’s sick and her father who’s passed, I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally. But I can tell you I loved her, I can tell you she loved me, we was very close. We were, you know, best best best best friends.”
Sure enough, Kells start ducking questions using the she’s not here to defend herself and I’d like to respect the family angle. However, he did add:
Well, I have nothing to protect myself from. I’m still successful, and I’ve got an album out now, I’m gonna move on after this interview and go to the next interview and do another interview, and these questions are going to be asked. I did the best I could by writing my book and putting it out there for whoever wants to read about Robert. [Aaliyah is not mentioned in Kelly’s book.] Can’t satisfy everybody, unfortunately. I wish that I could.”
Did you do anything in that situation that you feel bad about or you feel was wrong?
“Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That’s my answer forever: Absolutely not.”
So essentially, R. Kelly just copped to laying down with a 15-year-old, allegedly, and having no problems with it. But you probably already knew that.
The February 2016 issue of GQ is out nationally on Jan. 26. Read the full interview with R. Kelly right here.