R.-Kelly*R. Kelly has had many ups and down in his professional and personal lives, but he remains among the best crooners around.

Still, Kelly’s past has hovered over him in the form of his relationship with his protégé Aaliyah: a scandal involving a case with him having sex with an underage girl and a childhood filled with sexual abuse.

For the latest edition of GQ, Kelly addresses these issues, in addition to his struggles with illiteracy, as he lays it out for readers to take in. Scroll below for excerpts from the “Backyard Party” entertainer’s interview with the publication, via The Jasmine Brand:

Growing up having challenges reading:

Other kids could read, other kids could write, other kids could spell, they could do math,” he says. “I felt like an alien, I felt like an outcast. I felt like, ‘What is going to happen to me?’ My mother couldn’t answer it. My stepfather wasn’t really interested in it one way or another. And my brothers and sisters were so young at the time they wouldn’t do nothing but tease me about it. I was the ‘dummy’: ‘How you gon’ do this? You can’t even read!’

How he’s gotten better with reading:

Since my daughter showed me voice texts on my phone, I’ve gotten a lot better. I’m not a A student, I’m not even a B student, but I’ve gotten a lot better with the reading because of texts. And I can voice-text and say whatever I want to people. And then they text me back and I take my time and I can read through it.

Being sexually abused by a woman as a child:

At first, I couldn’t judge it. I remember it feeling weird. I remember feeling ashamed. I remember closing my eyes or keeping my hands over my eyes. I remember those things, but couldn’t judge it one way or the other fully.

How he feels about being sexually assaulted as a child now:

I, well, definitely forgive them. As I’m older, I look at it and I know that it had to be not just about me and them, but them and somebody older than them when they were younger, and whatever happened to them when they were younger. I looked at it as if there was a sort of like, I don’t know, a generational curse, so to speak, going down through the family. Not just started with her doing that to me.

How he describes his relationship with Aaliyah:

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.

If he was in love with Aaliyah:

Yes. I would say I loved ‘liyah.

How he was ‘in love’ with Aaliyah:

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.

Reports that he had a marriage ceremony with Aaliyah:

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.

To read Kelly’s interview in its entirety, click here.