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The ceo of Blackground Records and uncle to the late R&B princess Aaliyah has spoken out regarding his opinions on R. Kelly.
While many music lovers know of Barry Hankerson as some nefarious character who has been holding onto Aaliyah’s catalog for decades, he has had quite an influential career in the music industry. Hankerson would be instrumental in developing R. Kelly’s career early on, and it was him that introduced his young niece to the twenty-something singer. The pair were encouraged to work on music together, and soon, Kelly reportedly coerced Aaliyah into a sexual relationship.
The details of the said relationship are being played out during Kelly’s current New York trial. Hankerson spoke about his late niece with The Rickey Smiley Morning Show when he called in to address the controversy about Aaliyah’s albums.’
After explaining that it wasn’t his choice to keep Aaliyah’s music away from fans and detailed how streaming has been “devastating” for “small labels,” Hankerson was asked about his thoughts when he learned about what Aaliyah endured while with Kelly.
“To be very honest with you, of course, I was upset. I had to really, really consider what my actions would be,” he said. “And really I found out, I wasn’t a hardcore criminal. I couldn’t kill nobody. So, I took it, I’m a Muslim, and I went to Minster Farrakhan and we just prayed about it, resolved ourselves to let God handle him. I think that’s what’s going on. Ain’t no sense in two lives getting destroyed.”
Hankerson said that he has not been keeping up with Kelly’s trial and has chosen not to even listen to what happened to Aaliyah while she was allegedly being abused by Kelly. “I just put a wall up to that. It’s just too emotional for me. It just brings back too many bad thoughts for my whole family. He impacted my whole family, you know. It’s just a bad thing.”
“She was so sweet and so considerate and she loved to sing,” he said of Aaliyah, adding that he can’t speak about her too long without crying. Listen to Hankerson’s interview with The Rickey Smiley Morning Show below.