It was only a matter of time before the Me Too and Time’s Up movements set their sights on R. Kelly and his decades of alleged sexual misconduct, abuse and kidnapping. Kelly has long denied accusations that he victimizes young women and lures them into living at one of his multiple rental properties under the false pretense of making them successful recording artists, then keeps them there under duress. Time’s Up released a statement on April 30 detailing the allegations against Kelly, promoting the #MuteRKelly hashtag and calling on specific corporations to limit his public exposure.
The statement is specifically from a group within the Time’s Up movement who identify themselves as Women of Colour (WOC) and say they were bolstered by the conviction last month of Bill Cosby for his sexual assault of Andrea Constand. The statement cites R. Kelly’s indictment for child pornography; lawsuits against him by women for rape, misconduct, assault and unlawful restraint and his controversial (and possibly illegal) marriage to singer Aaliyah when she was 15.
RKelly has been PROTECTED by the industry for 20+yrs. This indepth report from @geoffedgers unpacks how his predatory conduct was overlooked and brings us back to that same conclusion that @JimDeRogatis made: nobody matters less than #Blackgirls. Nobody. #MuteRKelly #metooMVMT https://t.co/dvi7Lp6TJx
— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) May 5, 2018
They also demand “appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly’s abuse” and called on RCA Records, Ticketmaster, Spotify, Apple Music and Greensboro Coliseum Complex to cut ties with the R&B singer. This week, Spotify gave a response.
The streaming service announced Thursday that they would drop R. Kelly’s music from all playlists owned and operated by the company and algorithmic recommendations like Discover Weekly. The change is in alignment with Spotify’s new public hate content and hateful conduct policy. Kelly’s music will still be available to search and stream, but he will no longer be featured and promoted on the platform.
— TIME’S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) May 10, 2018
*picks up mic*
For those who are up on R Kelly’s bops I have compiled a list of comparative songs that are similar in tempo, chord structure and overall sonics…
I.e instead of listening to kells listen to these instead #MeToo #MuteRKelly
A short thread
— Jacqueline Constance (@JacqConMusic) May 10, 2018
Kelly responded to the move shortly after, through a representative. In the statement he claimed innocence, called the allegations a “smear campaign” and accused Spotify of cowing to social media fads and hypocritically removing Kelly’s music while continuing to promote artists convicted of crimes.
R. Kelly’s management team responded to Spotify’s decision to take him off their playlists, saying the music streaming service’s “actions are without merit.” pic.twitter.com/YWn8ZmG2VA
— Krystie Lee Yandoli (@KrystieLYandoli) May 10, 2018
“[Mr. Kelly] is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him . . . he has never been convicted of a crime nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him,” the statement reads, “[Spotify] is acting based on false and unproven allegations. It is bowing to social-media fads . . . meanwhile, though, Spotify promotes numerous other artists who are convicted felons, others who have been arrested on charges of domestic violence and artists who sing lyrics that are violent and anti-women in nature.”
So @Spotify gonna play the popularity game & remove xxxtentacion/R Kelly’s music who haven’t been convicted of anything yet. Dr. Dre/Chris Brown/James Brown/Slash/Vanilla Ice remain. Spotify doesn’t care about abuse & they don’t care about women. They’re just playing politics.
— ToPumpAButterfly (@YourMusicWhore) May 10, 2018
Dear @Spotify, I hope your new hateful conduct policy will have the same energy to ban white artist like Elvis, John Lennon, Izzy Pop, Ozzy Osborne, Steven Tyler , etc. as you have for R.Kelly and XXXtentacion.
— A y y é M o n é (@AshaMone) May 10, 2018
While some people see the ban as a failing or a publicity move, Eva Longoria – a Time’s Up advocate – responded positively to the move and called it a “huge accomplishment.”
“Today, Spotify announced it’s dropping R. Kelly from its playlists. That was a huge thing,” Longoria told Bustle, “One thing we like to do is amplify the accomplishments that Time’s Up is doing, so that hashtag is #MuteRKelly. We’ve got Spotify to drop his music. You can search him, but he’s off anybody’s playlist which is a huge accomplishment.”
While a move like this by an influential company is certainly a step forward, there is a long way to go before there is a global reckoning in the music industry like the one we’ve seen in Hollywood. Especially when artists who have been convicted of abuse and even sing/rap about it still hold places of power and have their music promoted.
I think people need to take what is being done with #MuteRKelly and also use it to stand with other victims, #MuteChrisBrown should be a thing. While we are speaking against sexual violence there is also a genuine need to work to end domestic violence.
— AF (@JustAFlower12) May 9, 2018