Is The Music Industry Finally Turning Its Back On R. Kelly?

In the week since 'Surviving R. Kelly' first aired, the tides have begun to turn.

R. Kelly

Warning: This article discusses sexual and child abuse. 

One week ago, a massive six-hour documentary series called Surviving R. Kelly aired in the US, detailing the extensive allegations of abuse and pedophilia levelled against the singer by many women, including his ex-wife. In the time since, it appears the tides are finally turning against him.

Airing on Lifetime, Surviving R. Kelly extensively documented Kelly’s life, beginning with his own molestation as a child, to his rise as a singer, and his then-secret 1994 marriage to a 15-year-old Aaliyah when he was 33.

It then follows several accusations of pedophilia and sexual abuse against Kelly, as well as claims that he is holding multiple women, potentially against their will, at his homes in Atlanta and Chicago, in what has been referred to as a “sex cult”. You can find an extensive run-through here.

Through his lawyer, Kelly has threatened to sue over the documentary and continued to deny all claims, as he has ever since they were first publicly reported in 2000.

The documentary, executive produced by dream hampton, was a cultural and ratings smash, averaging 2.1 million viewers per episode.

In the week since it’s aired, several more women have come forward with accusations and criminal investigations against Kelly have opened in Georgia. Additionally, police visited Kelly’s apartment in Chicago’s Trump Tower after receiving an anonymous tip he was holding two women there against his will. Speaking to police, the women said they were there of of their own free will, though in Surviving R. Kelly, one of the women’s parents expressed a fear that she had been brainwashed.

Is This Finally The End For R. Kelly?

It also appears that the music industry may be turning its back on Kelly. Despite the well-known allegations, artists have continued to collaborate with Kelly for years.

In Surviving R. Kelly, Chance The Rapper apologised for releasing a song with Kelly in 2015, examining how he and the wider public could easily ignore the chorus of black women accusing the singer.

Alongside John Legend, he was one of two male musicians in the documentary. In an interview, hampton said that more than 50 celebrities declined to be involved, including Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Lil Kim, Erykah Badu and Lady Gaga.

Gaga has since spoken in support of Kelly’s accusers, apologising for the Kelly-featuring 2013 single ‘Do What U Want’ and removing it from streaming services.

“I stand behind these women 1000 percent, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously,” she wrote in a statement.

Shortly after, French band Phoenix also apologised for releasing a remix of 2013 single ‘Trying To Be Cool’ with Kelly. They tweeted their ‘regrets’ for not being more informed when working with him, which included a performance with him at Coachella. The remix remains available online.

It’s also being reported that Céline Dion is planning on removing ‘I’m Your Angel’, her 1998 collab with Kelly, from streaming services. In addition, a permit for an R Kelly-hosted concert in Illinois was denied by state officials, claiming security concerns.

But it’s reports that Kelly’s label has blacklisted him that most suggests the music industry may be turning its back on the singer. According to TMZ, RCA (an imprint of Sony) will not finance, produce, market or release new music from Kelly while investigations continue.

By his contract, Kelly still has two albums he must release. Since last year, Kelly has taken to Soundcloud to independently release music, including ‘I Admit’, a 19-minute denial of abuse allegations.

The Cut is currently updating one article to cover all new events relating to Kelly.

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