In the days after Lifetime debuted their documentary series Surviving R Kelly, celebrities who have recorded with the R&B singer or supported him publicly are being asked to account for their silence. The miniseries features over 50 interviews, some of which are with R. Kelly’s accusers, family members, and friends, but few celebrities make an appearance aside from John Legend, who shared his thoughts on the matter via Twitter, and Chance The Rapper, who apologized for working with Kelly.
Before the premiere, producer dream hampton said that Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Erykah Badu, Celine Dion, Questlove, and Dave Chappelle all declined to give interviews for the series. Now that the show is out and has earned Lifetime exceedingly strong ratings and Kelly is officially under investigation for his alleged crimes in Atlanta, celebrities are being criticized for not speaking out.
Lady Gaga’s unwillingness to condemn Kelly in light of various exposés documenting his alleged abuse has been particularly notable, since the pop star has always touted herself as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence. Lady Gaga collaborated on a song with Kelly in 2013 called “Do What U Want (With My Body),” which was featured on her album ARTPOP. The two appeared on SNL together, and at that time, some allegations against Kelly had already been made publicly.
Facing mounting pressure to make a statement, Lady Gaga tweeted an apology early this morning. In it she writes: “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. What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible.” Lady Gaga says that she will remove “Do What U Want (With My Body)” from streaming platforms. Read the whole statement below.
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. What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life, 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. If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self I’d tell her to go through therapy I have since then, so that I could understand the confused post-traumatic state that I was in — or if therapy was not available to me or anyone in my situation — to seek help, and speak as openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through. I can’t go back, but I can go forward and continue to support women, men, and people of all sexual identities, and of all races, who are victims of sexual assault. I have demonstrated my stance on this issue and others many times throughout my career. I share this not to make excuses for myself, but to explain. Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels. But I do know how I feel now. I intend to remove this song off of iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working with him again. I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you.
I stand by anyone who has ever been the victim of sexual assault: pic.twitter.com/67sz4WpV3i
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) January 10, 2019
In further Kelly news: Two Dallas radio stations have banned his music, and Future alluded to Kelly’s streaming numbers during a Power 106 interview. “We giving it too much attention, you know what I’m sayin’,” Future said. “When you give things too much attention, they blow up. That’s why he gon’ blow up. That’s why his music gonna do what it did ’cause y’all keep talkin’ about it. Stop talking about it, it’ll go away.” Future collaborated with Kelly on his 2012 Pluto track “Parachute.”
UPDATE: Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly has been removed from Apple Music, iTunes, and Spotify. The song is no longer included on the Gaga album it originally appeared on, ARTPOP.