A new, official-appearing R. Kelly collection provocatively titled “I Admit” appeared on streaming services — including Spotify and Apple Music — on Friday, although reps for Sony Music, which owns the rights to much of the singer’s catalog, stressed to Variety that the album is an unofficial release (i.e. a bootleg), even though the copyright line on the album reads “Legacy Recordings,” which is Sony Music’s catalog division.
Sony’s rep confirmed that the release is not legitimate but did not immediately have further details; reps for Spotify and Apple Music did not immediately have comment. Contacted by Variety, the office of a recent attorney for Kelly did not immediately have a comment.
R. Kelly is serving a 30-year prison sentence after being found guilty of multiple sexual-misconduct-related charges in New York last year; he is awaiting sentencing in Illinois and other jurisdictions.
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The album’s title comes from a 19-minute song he released in July of 2018 in which, contrary to the title, he essentially denies the longstanding sexual-misconduct allegations against him.
The album is a collection of previously released and unreleased material primarily dating from the latter years of Kelly’s recording career, although several of the unreleased tracks have been floating around on the internet for as long as 15 years. He continued to release music as the allegations against him mounted in 2018 and 2019, sometimes through his label at the time, RCA, and some on SoundCloud and other services.
While it is surprising that such a controversially titled unofficial release by an artist such as Kelly was posted on the world’s largest streaming platforms without setting off any alarms, hundreds of thousands of songs are uploaded to the services every day, and the copyright says “Legacy Recordings,” which is the name of Sony Music’s catalog division — however, official Legacy releases bear a Sony Music Entertainment copyright.
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Bootlegs have been snuck onto major streaming services in the past — several unofficial Velvet Underground live recordings appeared on Spotify several years ago — but are usually quickly removed, which seems a likely outcome in this case.