In the wake of Lifetime’s bombshell doc Surviving R. Kelly that outlines years of Kelly’s alleged abuse, the movement to mute the embattled singer has never been stronger. For the first time, both his peers and collaborators are taking a moral stance against the Pied Piper of R&B, some going so far as to apologize for working with R. Kelly and erasing their work with him from digital existence. Others have come forward with stories of how Kelly’s alleged behavior has long been an industrywide open secret. From Lady Gaga to John Legend to Jada Pinkett Smith, these are the artists who’ve denounced R. Kelly. We’ll continue to update this list as more celebrities speak out.
“Do What U Want (With My Body)” (2013)
On January 10, Gaga released a statement apologizing for her past work with Kelly and became the first to announce that she intended to remove a collaboration with Kelly from streaming services. “I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously,” she wrote. “I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time,” she wrote of the song, referencing her own sexual assault at the age of 19. “If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self I’d tell her to go through the therapy I have since then.” Less than a day later, the single from her 2013 album Artpop was pulled.
Chance the Rapper
“Somewhere in Paradise” (2015)
After an audio clip of Chance the Rapper saying that working with Kelly was a “mistake” appeared in the Surviving R. Kelly series, Chance said that the quote was taken out of context but apologized to survivors in a statement on Twitter. “[T]he truth is any of us who ever ignored the R. Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being setup/attacked by the system (as black men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls,” he wrote. “I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out.” By January 14, “Somewhere in Paradise,” featuring and co-written by R. Kelly, was no longer available to stream.
“I’m Your Angel” (1998)
Dion has not commented publicly on the allegations against Kelly, but TMZ reported on January 14 that her team was in the process of removing the 1998 duet. Produced and written by R. Kelly, the song was nominated for a Grammy and spent six weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100. As of publication, its video has been removed from YouTube, though the song remains on streaming.
“Promise (Go and Get Your Tickets Mix)” (2006)
Ciara has also not commented on Kelly, but TMZ reported on January 14 that Ciara’s team is requesting that Sony remove their song, from her 2006 album The Evolution, from streaming and iTunes. Coincidentally, Sony is Kelly’s parent record label, and it has not commented on Kelly’s legal issues or his future at the label. Reports say Sony has, however, stonewalled Kelly from releasing any new music on its RCA imprint and is weighing its options for voiding his contract.
“Out of This Club” (2008)
TMZ reported on January 15 that the Pussycat Dolls have asked their label Interscope to pull their Kelly collab from streaming, though the former group has yet to comment on the allegations.
“It’s Your World” (2014) and “Where You At” (2011)
The Associated Press reports that, as of January 31, Jennifer Hudson has removed two R. Kelly collaborations from streaming platforms, including Apple Music and YouTube. Kelly wrote and features on “It’s Your World,” which was nominated for a Grammy, and also wrote “Where You At,” which was a Top 10 R&B hit and charted on the Hot 100.
“Trying to Be Cool (Remix)” (2013), Kelly appeared onstage at Coachella with the group.
The French band apologized on Twitter for not knowing more about the situation when they worked with Kelly. “We are deeply horrified by the stories of abuse surrounding R. Kelly. We regret that we were not both more informed and more discerning when we worked with him previously,” they wrote. “We fully support all victims of sexual abuse, and it’s our hope that there will be a path to justice.” Phoenix have not announced plans to remove the song from streaming.
“Girlfriend,” “What a Girl Wants,” “Bump, Bump, Bump,” “Bump That” (2002), “Girlfriend (Pied Piper Remix)” (2003)
Ahead of B2K’s reunion tour, Omarion shared a lengthy statement on January 6 distancing himself from Kelly, who wrote B2K’s biggest hits, including “Bump Bump Bump.” “#RKelly was both a victim & a predator & accordingly must be held accountable but also get professional help,” Omarion wrote. “His artistic genius inspired us all. His music is being muted by the darkness of his actions. The dark always comes to light.” He announced that he would “retire” all songs written by Kelly at the end of B2K’s tour, adding, “I too am raising a future queen.” He did not announce plans to also remove those songs from streaming.
On January 10, Cannon apologized for working with Kelly, admitting that he ignored accusations about him that had long circulated in the industry. “After much self reflection and meditation, I have to be one of the first to admit that in my past I’ve DEFINITELY turned a blind eye to a lot of darkness in this industry,” he wrote. “Let’s stop beating around the bush and call it what it is. This entire industry was established and built by evil and predatory spirits and male chauvinistic behavior.” He vowed to speak up about abuse in the entertainment business that he’s known about: “It is no secret how men have misused their power to manipulate young emerging pop stars to seasoned hollywood actresses and everyone in between. I have personally witnessed it and will no longer be silent about it. It’s not dry snitching, it’s a paradigm shift.” He ended, “I apologize my Queens.” He did not announce plans to remove their song from streaming.
Destiny’s Child, “Stimulate Me” (1999) (soundtrack to movie Life), featuring and produced by R. Kelly
On January 9, Mathew Knowles, who managed Destiny’s Child, recalled not allowing the group, then all teenagers, to work one-on-one with Kelly for their collaboration on the Life soundtrack after hearing rumors of his predatory behavior. He later turned down a future collaboration between Kelly and Destiny’s Child. “I personally rejected the song, because I didn’t think it was a good song,” he told Metro. “Not just because of [his] reputation — this was around 1998, we had just begun to hear some of those things. The girls were 15, 16. When they went to the bathroom, Tina [Lawson] would go with them. They did not leave our eyes.”
Once positioned as Kelly’s latest protégé, Palmer spoke out on her experiences having Kelly as a mentor, saying she no longer supports him. “As a student of R. Kelly’s for the time I was and having been around his light and understanding the obstacles he overcame as a child to actually be birthed into the musical genius he is today,” she wrote, “I am hurt and saddened because he could have been a blessing to these women but instead he repeatedly took advantage and that I can not accept. I will stand by my sisters because that’s simply what’s right and what I hope discontinues this behavior in anyone.”
“More and More” (2003)
As of January 31, R&B singer Joe tells the Associated Press that he will no longer perform 2003’s “More and More,” which doesn’t feature Kelly but was written by him and was a Top 20 R&B hit. “No music or intellectual property is worth being inconsiderate to the feelings or pain of others,” he said.
“I Am Your Woman” (2001)
R&B singer Syleena Johnson also told the Associated Press on January 31 that upon closer examination of the lyrics to her Kelly-penned song “I Am Your Woman,” which includes lines like “Now I’ve been dealin’ with you since sweet 16/Woman enough to let you raise me/You used to call me daddy’s ghetto queen,” she can no longer perform it. (Kelly also produced the song, which was her debut single.) “No, I didn’t tape the song knowing what I know now, but when you know better, you have to do better,” she says. “Essentially you’ve put me in a predicament where I’m a young woman talking about being with an older man. That’s what my song says. So, when I see what’s going on, I’m in tears because I’ve been singing that the whole time.” Kelly also wrote Johnson’s biggest solo hit, 2002’s “Guess What,” but Johnson did not say if she’ll stop performing that song, too.
Legend was one of only two musicians who agreed to be interviewed for Surviving R. Kelly. He later stood by his decision on Twitter and said it was a no-brainer. “To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” he tweeted. “I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”
Though he was asked to appear as a talking head in Surviving R. Kelly, Questlove said he declined, not because he didn’t want to speak negatively about Kelly, but because he refused to praise his artistry. In a since-deleted Twitter statement, Questlove clarified that he does not support Kelly: “I always thought Kels was trash. My reason for declining the R. Kelly docu that I support 10000000 percent is I didn’t wanna be in the ‘good times’ portion of the doc, like stanning [or, being an overzealous fan] for his ‘genius.’ I was asked to talk about his genius. I do not nor have I EVER stanned for him.”
The singer reacted to the doc by corroborating the alleged victims’ stories, saying she’d heard all the same stories about Kelly’s alleged abuse from other men in the industry. “Many of these stories I was hearing when I, myself, was wayyyy underage. Making my first couple albums at 12 and then 14/15. I was a HUGEEEEE R Kelly fan, came from a broken home, had daddy issues, and wondered … how did these girls get chosen? I wondered if I could/would be,” she wrote. She said her mother prevented her from working with Kelly when she was underage. “So so thankful 2have had my mom by my side (THANK U MOM I LOVE U MADLY) who 1- never left me alone for a second until I turned 18, 2- never let me work w R Kelly when I begged her to 3- never let me get too close to other predatory men who wanted to do who-knows-what to me.”
Jada Pinkett Smith
Following the docuseries, Pinkett Smith hosted a special two-part episode of her Red Table talk show, bringing on one of the alleged victims seen in the film, as well as her daughter, Willow Smith. Pinkett Smith acknowledged that she’d heard the rumors about Kelly during his relationship with Aaliyah, but couldn’t believe it. “I see how that happened with Aaliyah. I remember you would hear whispers of stuff, but you know, you’d go, Oh, she’s making hit songs; she must be okay,’” she said. “Man, how complicit we all have been. We should have all been screaming from the rafters.”
The Roc-a-Fella co-founder dated Aaliyah up until her death and has long maintained that Kelly abused her. Reacting to the doc in a new interview, Dash said that he saw some of the same trauma in those alleged victims’ faces that he saw in Aaliyah. “There was a girl when she was even trying to talk about it and she couldn’t, and I remember Aaliyah trying to talk about it and she couldn’t. She would just leave it at, ‘That dude was a bad man,’” he said. “I didn’t really want to know what he did, to the extent that I would, you know, deal with it because that’s what a man does. But it was so much hurt for her to revisit it. I wouldn’t want to revisit it without a professional. Whatever got done was terrible.” Dame added that he wholeheartedly disapproved of Jay-Z going on to make two albums with Kelly, claiming that Jay was well aware of Kelly’s alleged abuse: “If you remember The Best of Both Worlds, you don’t see my name on that […] I never wanted no part of that.” (Jay-Z had a public falling out with Kelly over their scrapped 2004 tour; Hov has not commented on the allegations and declined to be interviewed for Surviving R. Kelly.)
After watching the doc, Mill shared his thoughts on Twitter, saying he’s “not feeling R. Kelly,” but adding that Kelly’s behavior is not an industry exception. “It’s so much filthy shit going on in this industry nobody will ever really speak on the wild shit because most of them could have docs like this or even worst done about them!” he wrote. “It don’t take a rocket scientist to see what was going on … what I’m tryna figure out why did they let it go on soooooo long!”
He also joined the #MuteRKelly movement after watching the doc, writing on Instagram, “There is NO excuse. Music is important. It really is. But it’s not more important than protecting our children, protecting our little girls. PERIOD.”
Processing his thoughts on the doc on Instagram, the R&B singer said he could no longer support R. Kelly. “We’ve invested so much of ourselves into this man that it’s hard for us to let go. I no longer have that issue,” he wrote. “I whole heartedly apologize for not coming to this realization sooner. I CANOT separate the music from the monster!”
After watching the series, the R&B singer said he wanted Kelly to be canceled. “Get this man tf outta here. please. he beyond trash,” he tweeted. He further tweeted directly at Kelly, calling him “fucking disgusting.”