It’s time to mute R. Kelly. Literally. “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” written by Kelly and performed by Aaliyah, hauntingly alluded to the atrocities chronicled in Lifetime’s 2019 documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.” Yet his streaming popularity has increased in the weeks following the premiere.
We are on the wrong side of history if we continue to monetarily support a pedophile actively manipulating young girls. Kelly’s streams increased by 16% after the first episode alone. The interest sparked should not be met by making him more successful.
Allegations of pedophilia, sexual misconduct and abuse have followed Kelly consistently throughout the decades. In 1994, 27-year-old Kelly married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in an illegal ceremony using fraudulent documents. From 1996 to 2002, he was sued for inappropriate sexual conduct with teenagers by three women who all settled out of court. In 2008, he was acquitted on 14 counts of child pornography while performing “disturbing acts,” although there was an overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting he was guilty.
On Comedy Central, Dave Chappelle famously mocked the singer’s sex tape from a child pornography case in which Kelly is seen urinating on a young girl. She was only 14. Let that sink in.
In 2017, BuzzFeed released an article alleging sex cult-like behavior from Kelly. The allegations include women being forcibly held and controlled in everything they do, from when they eat, shower and use the restroom to how they can dress and engage in sexual encounters.
“I was mentally drained ‘cause he would break me down, then build me up, then make me feel like shit again and do it all over again,” said Jerhonda James in the Lifetime documentary. At 16, she lived in isolation in one of Kelly’s homes for six months. James relives the fear of being held captive by Kelly as she shriveled up in tears when asked to describe the abuse. Still traumatized from these dark moments in her life, she declined to answer.
R. Kelly is not new to this game. In wake of the sparked outrage following the documentary’s premiere, he has been seen partying with no worries. In July 2018, he continued to deny all allegations and tease the public with his 19-minute song “I Admit.” “Don’t push your daughter in my face, and tell me that it’s okay/‘Cause your agenda is to get paid, and get mad when it don’t go your way,” Kelly taunts.
There are so many complexities stemming from Kelly’s ongoing behavior. There are women who have been traumatized and exploited, parents who haven’t been able to speak to their daughters in years and girls at his side with Stockholm syndrome.
One element reigns supreme: most of these girls are minorities. If these were white women, not women of color, being abused and groomed to stay with their abuser, the public’s perception and legal actions may have been significantly harsher a long time ago. However, these are our sisters, cousins and best friends who have been for whatever reason enamored to take the plunge into a cruel cult. R. Kelly should rot in jail for abusing, grooming and raping children.
If you’d like to support the #MuteRKelly movement, you easily start on Spotify. Click the “Don’t play this artist” button located on the menu of any artist. Some radio stations have already stopped playing his music. Lady Gaga issued an apology and removed her song with Kelly titled, “Do What U Want,” from all streaming services. Kelly has also been dropped by his record label, Sony.
We cannot let our curiosity for Kelly contribute to pedophilia. By streaming his songs or watching his videos, we are contributing to Kelly’s monetary success, which consequently funds his abusive lifestyle. He may have been able to get away with it in the past, but in light of the #TimesUp movement and #MeToo era, we will not allow it anymore.
Richard Kelly, you have been officially cancelled.