the industry

R. Kelly and His Label Are Reportedly at a Bitter Stalemate

R. Kelly. Photo: Prince Williams/WireImage

The legal consequences of R. Kelly’s alleged behavior remain uncertain, and so does his future as an artist. TMZ reports that Kelly has been all but blacklisted at his label RCA and its parent Sony, with the company refusing to finance, produce, market, or release any new music from Kelly as investigations into his alleged sex crimes in two states persist. According to TMZ, Kelly is prepared to release new music and still has two albums left to fulfill his contract at RCA (the terms of which have not been made public), but the label won’t budge. Kelly’s last album for the label was his absurd 2016 Christmas album, 2 Play to 12 Nights of Christmas. Last year, he self-produced and self-released on SoundCloud a nearly 20-minute song/rant absolving himself of any all and bad behavior that wasn’t officially associated with RCA.

RCA hasn’t shared any official statements about Kelly’s future at the company or his legal troubles in the years since new allegations surfaced. (Vulture has sent multiple requests for comment.) But TMZ reports that RCA is weighing its options of how to best void Kelly’s contract without facing a lawsuit or any other financial deficit; a “moral clause,” for example, could give it a safe out. (It’s worth noting that Sony opted against renewing its contract with accused abuser Dr. Luke in 2017, but that RCA also did sign fellow embattled artist Chris Brown earlier this month.)

Last year, Pitchfork reported that talks between RCA and activist group Color of Change about dropping Kelly from the label’s roster went nowhere. On Friday, activist group Ultraviolet once again put the pressure on Sony, flying a banner over Sony’s Culver City offices that read “RCA/SONY: DROP SEXUAL PREDATOR R. KELLY.” (Again, Sony did not comment.) Meanwhile, Illinois has denied a permit request from R. Kelly that would’ve allowed him to host an event called Springfield Spring Break Jam in April, citing security concerns related to the escalating fallout from Surviving R. Kelly.

Over the weekend, Kelly was visited by Chicago police at his Trump Tower residence responding to a call that he was holding two women hostage there, which the women denied. On Wednesday, Kelly’s recording studio in Chicago will be inspected by the city to find out if he violated zoning laws by having people (potentially his alleged victims) live there.

R. Kelly and His Label Are Reportedly at a Bitter Stalemate