Working in media and reporting on the trauma of Black girls and women for so long, I knew more than most about the intricacies of R. Kelly’s deviant sexual acts and abusive behavior. Still, nothing could have prepared me to put the faces to the names and stories I had written and learn the depth of his depravity and get a clearer picture about the damage it caused to the girls and women he’s abused over the years.
I think it would have been hard for anybody with good sense to watch all parts of that doc and come away with any other conclusion that Robert Kelly has allowed himself to become a monster. Period, full stop. And while it is long overdue, celebrities, particularly those in the music industry, are starting to acknowledge this fact.
Throughout the course of the documentary, several singers stepped forward publicly condemning Kelly’s actions—although some still have some things to learn. See what they had to say on the following pages.
If you know B2K’s catalog, you know that they worked with R. Kelly throughout their career to release some of their biggest hits, including “Girlfriend (The Pied Piper Remix),” and “Bump, Bump, Bump.” But after the doc, Omarion feels a way about these songs. And while he said the group will perform them during their upcoming Millennium Tour, after that, he’s retiring them.
In the past, Tank, who dubbed himself the general of R&B has consistently sung R. Kelly’s praises. Just last month, he dubbed him the King of R&B, despite being aware of his abuse of young girls and women. He wrote, “The accusations don’t disqualify what he’s accomplished.”
But after the documentary, he changed his tune drastically, saying Kelly could not be the King if he treats Queens this way. Read his full statement below.
It’s no secret that Ne-Yo once admired R. Kelly. So much so that he decided to tour with Kelly on an R&B tour in 2007. But even back then, things were spiraling out of control. Ne-Yo explained that Kelly was a terror on tour, claiming that he took all seven dressing rooms, leaving the other artists without a room to change. He said that people were not allowed in the hallway whenever R. Kelly was walking through. It got so bad, he had to drop out of the tour. You can listen to Ne-Yo describe what went wrong in the interview below.
After the documentary, Ne-Yo posted this message.
This particular denunciation is interesting considering Columbus Short has his own sordid history of abuse against several of the women with whom he’s been in a romantic relationship. So we’ll take his words with a grain of salt…but you can check them out in the video below.
Jada Pinkett Smith
As an advocate for women and a women who is invested in having difficult and meaningful conversations, it’s no surprise that Jada Pinkett Smith spoke out about this documentary. Initially, she wrote about the doc itself and said we all had a lot to learn. Afterward, she asked why, in light of the documentary, R. Kelly’s music sales had increased. She wondered if it was because we just don’t care about Black girls enough.
Tamar, like so many of us, never hid the fact that she was a fan of R. Kelly’s music. In fact, she often cited “Bump N Grind,” as her favorite song. But after she viewed the first part of the documentary, even she had to acknowledge the bullsh*t. But the way she chose to do it, ended up getting her dragged. In a tweet she’s since deleted, she wrote:
“#SurvivingRKelly yeah he did that BS but the rest of Y’all punk a$$es did the WORK 4him 4yo fckn benefit! Everyone stood back & watched & did NOTHING! Then so quick to nail Rob 2the cross! Y’all R JUST as guilty! [angry face emoji] in my opinion he’s reacting to his OWN abuse! NoneedTBshame.com”
You can see how her words take the onus off of Kelly and place it on his employees. She further absolves him by pointing to his own abuse. Still, she detracts from the person who acted and damaged other people’s lives. Kelly.
Later, Tamar, who is also the victim of sexual abuse, deleted her tweet and tried to explain why she said what she did.
Meek kept it simple when it came to R. Kelly. After a fan asked him what he thought of the singer, he shared that his opinion wasn’t favorable. Still, he mentioned that R. Kelly is far from alone.
Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper, fellow Chicagoian once collaborated with R. Kelly earlier in his career. In the documentary, they showed a Cassius interview where he explained that it was a bad decision to work with Kelly. He explained that at the time, he didn’t value the experiences and stories of Black women. People took his words to mean he didn’t care in present day. He took some time to clarify.
K. Michelle, who worked with R. Kelly earlier in her music career and maintained a romantic relationship with the singer, wrote a song about him saying that he was controlling. Still, she references him as a mentor. And while she didn’t go into detail, she did say that she got out of the situation and it affected the way she saw herself and the way she interacts with other men. There were even tears after she stopped talking about him.
But during the documentary, the post she shared on Instagram made people wonder if she was advocating for these women the way she asked women to advocate and support her. See what she wrote below.
Still, given her proximity to the situation and her own experiences with, not only R. Kelly but with Memphitz as well, we’ll give her the space to heal, process and share as she sees fit.
Singer Jojo is an interesting addition to this list. Because while so many Black people, famous and nonfamous alike, have commented and discussed the Surviving R. Kelly documentary, there have been very few White people, particularly women, who have shared their thoughts and feelings or spoken out about his behavior. And being that this is an issue of women being abused, White women who call themselves feminists–or White women who believe in the rights of women, should speak up and out. But as far as I can tell, Jojo is one of the few White women in music who’s said something about Kelly. She shared an interesting story about wanting to work with the singer when she was first entering the industry as a child.