The “Surviving R. Kelly,” 3-part docu-series premiered last month on Lifetime. The series revealed troubling details about the singer’s obsession with underage girls.
Though some of the information presented about the singer’s infatuation with younger women was common knowledge, other allegations about his manipulation and physical abuse were shocking. Several survivors shared their experiences with Kelly, each being more disturbing than the next.
Not only has he been physically violent with these women, but victims such as Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary have been reportedly locked up in his home and are unable to be reached by their families to this day. There is even a video of Kelly allegedly urinating on a 14-year-old girl! How disgusting! Though this particular instance was taken to trial, the victim never showed to testify in court, so Kelly was not found guilty. Sadly, Kelly has escaped charges for the many allegations against him because of his money and celebrity privilege.
The Self-Proclaimed Pied Piper
Though there was clear evidence that he had predatory motives, he has gotten away with abusing young black girls for decades. For one, he frequently referred to himself as the “Pied Piper of R&B.” The Pied Piper was a folktale of a man that used music to lure children. Multiple incidents throughout his career have seemingly allowed this self-given nickname to ring true. When Kelly was 27, he married Aaliyah, a popular young R&B singer who was killed in a plane crash in 2001. She was just 15 at the time (his manager forged her age to 18 on the documents). Ironically, one of her first hit singles titled “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number,” was written by Kelly. His relationship with Aaliyah turned out not to be an isolated instance, but rather an inauguration to his supreme pedophilia.
He frequently referred to himself as the “Pied Piper of R&B.” The Pied Piper was a folktale of a man that used music to lure children.
After his marriage from Aaliyah was annulled, he would often hang around high schools to pick up girls. Even as he was on trial for allegedly filming sex acts with a minor, he engaged with young supporters outside of the courthouse. One fan, Jerhonda Pace, would later become one of his victims. In 2017, claims of R. Kelly having a sex cult arose. As if all this wasn’t enough, in July of last year, he released a 19-minute song entitled, “I Admit”, which addressed some of the allegations against him. In the song, he reveals his interest in younger women but doesn’t agree that this makes him a pedophile. He challenges the idea of him holding girls hostages as sex slaves as “silly.”
Despite the various indications that something was wrong about R. Kelly’s behavior, his reputation remained unscathed. His entourage enabled his perversions while his fan base turned a blind eye. Why did those in his entourage aid him in his alleged crimes rather than put him in check? Why didn’t his record label take action after such horrific accusations? Someone had to see these injustices were happening, yet no one seemed concerned that black women were suffering.
Muting R. Kelly
Thanks to the popularity of the docu-series, his pernicious actions were brought to a broader light. John Legend, Wendy Williams, and Tarana Burke (founder of the #MeToo movement) were among the men and women who spoke out against his actions in the docu-series. And following the airing of these episodes, other celebrities have decided to #MuteRKelly as well. All of this attention has put pressure on the powers that be. As of January 18th, Sony has dropped R. Kelly from their label. And in more recent news, R. Kelly is being investigated by the FBI, and his ex-manager has even been arrested for threats against the parents of Joycelyn Savage.
Though the testimonies from “Surviving R. Kelly” has made progress in denouncing his behavior, many in the black community remain his biggest supporters. Specifically, many black women defend him and criticize his victims for speaking out against him. After the docu-series aired, his streams have risen by sixteen percent on Spotify.
Many black women defend him and criticize his victims for speaking out against him.
What does this say about how the black community feels about our own women? Why are black people, and most of all, black women, still defending him even after all of this? If women don’t believe one another, who else will? The protection of those who abuse women must end.
It's crazy that I have to say this, but genius artistry does not excuse predatory behavior! Our culture must stop putting money into the pockets of abusers. R. Kelly and everyone who participated in the abuse of his victims are long overdue for justice. Stop streaming R. Kelly and other entertainers like him. Support the brave women who have come out against R. Kelly and others in the industry by deleting the music of their abusers (and calling out their representatives), and encourage your friends to do the same. There is no "separating the art from the artist" when it comes to a pedophile and an abuser. They're only powerful as long as we empower them. Your voice matters, so make it heard by muting his.