In the wake of Surviving R. Kelly, several musicians have reportedly take steps to remove their collaborations with the R&B singer from platforms like Spotify and iTunes, so that he can no longer make money from their projects. Chance the Rapper has removed his collaboration with R. Kelly from streaming services, with TMZ reporting that other artists like Céline Dion, Ciara, and the Pussycat Dolls are also in the process of pulling their own tracks.
The website cited one of Ciara's spokespeople as saying that the singer is "taking steps with Sony" to ensure that her collaboration with Kelly, "Promise (Go and Get Your Tickets Mix)" is removed from streaming services. (Bustle has also reached out to her representatives for comment; as of publication, the track is still available to stream and purchase online.) Vulture also reported that The Pussycat Dolls are working with their own record label, Interscope, to remove their song with Kelly, the 2008 track "Out of This Club," from streaming as well. (That song also remains on Spotify and iTunes as of publication.)
After the Lifetime documentary aired on Jan. 3-5 and brought renewed attention to the accusations of sexual coercion, abuse, and exploitation against Kelly, several famous musicians have commented on their past collaborations with the singer. Some, like Chance the Rapper, have admitted that they regret working with him. In a statement posted to Twitter, Chance — who appeared in the final episode of Surviving R. Kelly — admitted that working with Kelly on the 2015 track "Somewhere in Paradise" was a "mistake."
He also apologized for not realizing the weight of the allegations against Kelly at the time they collaborated, writing, "the truth is any of us who ever ignored the R. Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being set up/attacked by the system (as black men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls." He continued, "I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out." The track "Somewhere in Paradise" is not available to stream on Spotify or Apple Music, and is unavailable for purchase on iTunes as of Wednesday, Jan. 16.
On Monday, Jan. 14, Celine Dion removed her own collaboration with Kelly from streaming platforms, and the music video for their 1998 single, "I'm Your Angel," was removed from YouTube. The track is still currently available to stream on Spotify, but is only present on Apple Music under Kelly's name. (Bustle reached out to Dion for comment, but did not receive a response.)
Recently, Lady Gaga apologized for working with Kelly on the 2013 track "Do What U Want (With My Body)" in an emotional statement. Stating that she believes the women who came forward to speak out about Kelly in the Lifetime documentary, Gaga talked about her own sexual assault, and explained that the decision to work with Kelly came from a "dark" place.
"As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life," she wrote in her statement. "My intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn't processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life. The song is called 'Do What U Want (With My Body)', I think it's clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time."
Gaga also removed the track from streaming services shortly after her statement condemned Kelly, though a version of "Do What U Want" that features Christina Aguilera is still available to stream on multiple platforms.
The popularity of Surviving R. Kelly has had a great deal of positive effects, despite the fact that the singer has denied all of the allegations against him detailed in the documentary. Aside from the fact that musicians are taking a stand against Kelly, when the doc first premiered in early January, a Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the National Sexual Assault Hotline had seen a 27 percent increase in calls after the first episodes of the series aired.
And on Jan. 8, Buzzfeed reported that the Fulton County District Attorney's Office in Atlanta is investigating Kelly for several allegations that first came to their attention in Surviving R. Kelly. (The Fulton County DA's Office declined to comment to Bustle regarding the investigations.)
"The feedback has just been remarkable and completely unexpected that it’s sort of become as big as it has," Lifetime’s Brie Miranda Bryant told Variety on Jan. 16. "[It’s] certainly transcended the doc itself." Though she noted that the series wasn't created with the intention of spurring a criminal investigation into Kelly, she noted, "I think where we always have been, and where we remain, is how do we provide the proper platform for these women to be heard?"
Not only have the voices of Kelly's alleged survivors been heard, it seems as if their brave decision to speak out has inspired plenty of people to take action.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.