On January 11, women’s advocacy group UltraViolet flew a plane over Sony’s Culver City, California offices that read, “RCA/Sony: Drop Sexual Predator R. Kelly.”
Sony-owned RCA has worked with R. Kelly nearly his entire career, according to Variety. In the wake of the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries, which detailed decades of Kelly’s abuse of minors, UltraViolet announced its solidarity with the #MuteRKelly campaign, which aims to get R. Kelly’s music removed from radio stations and streaming services in addition to urging Sony and RCA to drop him from the label. A statement by Karin Roland, Chief Campaigns Officer at UltraViolet reads:
“It is long past time for RCA to dump R Kelly and take a stand against abuse,”said Karin Roland, UltraViolet’s chief campaigns officer. “Their inaction is beyond shameful. RCA can no longer pretend that R. Kelly’s music can be separated from his violent actions. Kelly uses his fame, musical talent, fortune, and standing in the music industry to lure in and abuse young Black girls. Even some of his songs are literally inspired by the abuses he has perpetrated. Kelly has been able to get away with his years of abuse precisely because his victims are young Black girls who face even more barriers to justice than their white peers. Sixty percent of Black women are sexually abused by age 18, but their abuse is written off because of harmful racial stereotypes that paint Black women and girls as more sexually promiscuous and aggressive than young white girls. We must believe and support Black survivors of sexual violence. It is time all of us work alongside the amazing Black women organizers calling out R. Kelly and his enablers to ensure justice.”
Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes founded the #MuteRKelly campaign in 2017 after decades of allegations against Kelly. In response, Spotify removed Kelly’s music from branded playlists in May 2018, but not from its streaming service, which caused terrible people to listen to Kelly’s 90s earworms even more.
In his own response to the #MuteRKelly campaign, Kelly himself said: “It’s too late, they shoulda did this shit thirty years ago. It’s too late.”
And because people remain awful, The Blast reports that streams of Kelly’s music have again jumped 16% since Surviving R. Kelly aired.
However, on the heels of Lady Gaga’s apology for her 2013 duet with Kelly, the grossly titled “Do What U Want,” the song has disappeared from streaming services, though a Rick Ross remix remains on Spotify. If you absolutely must hear that song, a version featuring Christina Aguilera is currently streaming on Apple Music and iTunes, according to Billboard.
Update (4 p.m.): According to People, Kelly’s lawyer Steve Greenberg has called Kelly’s accusers “disgruntled” in an interview with the Associated Press, and described Surviving R. Kelly as “trash TV,” along with seemingly accusing producers of encouraging interviewees to lie: “Some producer went running around and solicited all these people, did a Jerry Springer-esque show and there is all this uproar.”