Lady Gaga Is Re-Releasing 'Artpop' Without Her R. Kelly Collaboration
After removing "Do What U Want" from streaming platforms in January, Lady Gaga is re-releasing Artpop without the R. Kelly collaboration. New CD and vinyl copies of Gaga's 2013 platinum-selling album are slated for a Nov. 11 release, per Rolling Stone, although the vinyl is already listed as "sold-out" on the singer's website." This decision follows Kelly's July arrest and incarceration in a Chicago federal prison where he's awaiting trial on 18 charges of felony sex crimes involving four accusers, according to USA Today. (R. Kelly and his attorneys have repeatedly denied all claims to Bustle and other media outlets.)
"Do What You Want" was originally released in 2013 — over a decade after allegations Kelly having sex with minors went public, and five years after Kelly was acquitted on charges of child pornography in Chicago. And though Gaga steered clear of addressing her collaboration with Kelly for years, she officially pulled it from her catalogue this year, after Lifetime aired its Surviving R. Kelly docuseries. The series featured interviews with several women who claimed Kelly used his power and fame to allegedly abuse women and underage girls, both sexually and physically, and has been credited with putting a renewed scrutiny on the musician, which resulted in his arrest.
After the documentary aired in January, Gaga released a lengthy statement via Twitter on Jan. 10, saying she stands by "anyone who has ever been a victim of sexual assault." The singer noted she is "a victim of sexual assault" herself and made the song with Kelly during a "dark time" before she'd processed "the trauma that had occurred" in her own life.
In a 2014 interview on The Howard Stern Show, Gaga revealed that she was raped when she was 19 years old. "Do What U Want" — which features her and Kelly singing lyrics like, "do what you want with my body" — was intended to be "something extremely defiant and provocative," Gaga tweeted on Jan. 10.
"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," Gaga tweeted, announcing she was removing "Do What U Want" from iTunes and would not be working with Kelly again in the future. "What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible."
In July, a federal grand jury in Chicago indicted Kelly on 13 counts, which the assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois confirmed to the New York Times included "enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice, in addition to the child pornography charges." Separately, Brooklyn federal prosecutors indicted Kelly in July on one count of racketeering and four counts of violating the Mann Act, "which prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution." Three of the five victims in that indictment were minors at the time of the alleged abuse, according to the Times. In August, Kelly pleaded not guilty to federal charges in New York.
Gaga isn't the only musician to sever ties with Kelly this year. Celine Dion, the Pussycat Dolls, Ciara, and Chance the Rapper all removed their Kelly collaborations from streaming services in January as well. In a Jan. 5 tweet, Chance apologized for working with Kelly on 2015's "Somewhere in Paradise," writing, in part, "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."
By choosing to re-release Artpop without "Do What You Want," Gaga is choosing to place the stories of the alleged victims above her collaboration with Kelly.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.