Celebs Who Spoke Out Against R. Kelly

The self-titled "Pied Piper of R&B," R. Kelly is a three-time Grammy winner whose music has influenced an entire generation. However, since the 1990s, Kelly has faced numerous allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, including with underage women. In 2000, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Kelly leveraged his fame to have sex with girls "as young as 15." In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography after he allegedly made a sex tape with an underage girl. He was acquitted six years later.

The allegations surrounding Kelly were so prevalent they were ingrained in pop culture for almost two decades, but that all changed in 2017, when BuzzFeed News published a bombshell exposé in which three sets of parents accused Kelly of holding their daughters against their will in an "abusive cult" (Kelly denied all allegations in a 19-minute song). A #MuteRKelly campaign ensued, which Kelly's management called an "attempted public lynching of a black man."

On Jan. 5, 2019, several of Kelly's alleged victims appeared in Surviving R. Kellya Lifetime six-part documentary that took an expansive look at the allegations against the crooner. Garnering widespread attention, the docuseries brought Kelly's alleged behavior and the systemic institutions that supposedly shielded him into a new light. It also sparked plenty of reactions from stars on social media, like writer W. Kamau Bell, who called the series a "6 hour horror film." Here are some other celebs, who also spoke out against R. Kelly. 

John Legend has no regrets

Surviving R. Kelly executive producer dream hampton (who spells her name that specific, lowercase way) told the Detroit Free Press that numerous celebrities were asked to participate in the documentary, but John Legend was one of the few who agreed. "When it comes to celebrities, it was incredibly difficult to get people who had collaborated (artistically) with Kelly to come forward," the filmmaker revealed. "We asked Lady Gaga. We asked Erykah Badu. We asked Celine Dion. We asked Jay-Z. We asked Dave Chappelle. (They're) people who have been critical of him. That makes John Legend even more of a hero for me."

However, the "All Of Me" singer doesn't want his decision to be considered an act of bravery. "To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn't feel risky at all. I believe these women and don't give a f**k about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision," he tweeted.

"We should all thank my friend @dreamhampton for her very necessary work to create #SurvivingRKelly," he continued. "These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard. I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice."

Chance the Rapper: working with R. Kelly 'was a mistake'

R. Kelly is a legend and an icon in Chance the Rapper's hometown of Chicago, so whether it was bringing out Kelly as a surprise guest during his 2014 Lollapalooza set, making a cameo in Kelly's "Backyard Party" video, or collaborating with him on the 2015 track "Somewhere In Paradise," Chance seemingly never missed an opportunity to work together. However in a May 2018 interview with Jamilah Lemieux that features in Surviving R. Kelly, Chance now says that "was a mistake." 

According to Rolling Stone, Chance admitted to being "programmed to be hypersensitive to black male oppression," and that possibly caused him to "not care" or ignore the stories of Kelly's accusers "because they were black women." Chance also claimed "it's light-skinned women or white women" that get black men with this "magnitude of celebrity" in trouble. "I can't be right all the time," he concluded. "I'm happy that those women are getting voices now and I can grow to understand better what my positioning should be or should've been when that opportunity came."

Questlove vs. the Surviving R. Kelly executive producer

Questlove was asked to appear in the docuseries, but according to Pitchfork, he declined, claiming the controversy surrounding R. Kelly is "so messy and muddy." In two since-deleted tweets, The Roots drummer clarified why he chose not to participate in the Lifetime doc. 

"I always thought Kels was trash," he wrote. "My reason for declining the RKelly [sic] docu that I support 10000000 percent is I didn't wanna be in the 'good times' portion of the doc, like stanning for his 'genius.' I was asked to talk about his genius. I do not nor have I EVER stanned for him." He continued, "Just wanna make that abundantly clear in a non 'he doth protest too much' way. That quote makes it look like I'm protecting him. I'm thinking damn I don't wanna be the one guy I always am in documentaries fawning over someone I detest. So make ZERO mistake on my positioning."

These tweets might be deleted because the director pushed back on Questlove's comments. "I didn't ask you about his 'genius.' I've never thought he was a genius," dream hampton said (via Jezebel). "I asked you to come on camera and say the same thing you said on Twitter. I told you I need black male allies." 

JoJo sees herself in the victims

JoJo's debut single "Leave (Get Out)" dropped in 2004 when she was just 13, so Surviving R. Kelly struck a chord with the singer who grew up in the industry. In a series of tweets, she spoke up about her personal experiences learning about R. Kelly's "disgusting predatory ways" and the people who condoned them during studio recording sessions.

"Many of these stories I was hearing when I, myself, was wayyyy underage, she wrote. "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 proceeded to thank her mother for never letting her "get too close to other predatory men." Without her, JoJo admits she "could have easily fallen victim to someone like R Kelly. Period."

JoJo also understands why these horrific crimes are allowed to continue. "We must acknowledge that today, in America, the color of a person's skin + their/ their families socio-economic standing either ensures or denies them protection," she tweeted. "Some people's stories are prioritized & believed over others. Some are blamed & victim-shamed."

Tamar Braxton attempted nuance

Singer and reality star Tamar Braxton took to Twitter to lash out at the witnesses who remained silent at the decades of R. Kelly's alleged predation. "Yeah he did that BS but the rest of Y'all punk a**es did the WORK 4him 4yo f**kin benefit!" she said in a now-deleted tweet (per BET). "Everyone stood back & watched & did NOTHING! Then so quick to nail Rob 2the cross!" 

She added that since R. Kelly suffered sexual abuse as a child, his sexual behavior is a result of his own trauma (in an interview with GQ, Kelly revealed he was abused from "about [age] 7 or 8 to maybe 14, 15" a by a woman close to his family "every other day, every other week"). Many people thought she was defending R. Kelly, but as a victim of sexual abuse herself, Braxton claimed she's "learned that you can't acknowledge one abuse without the other. It's all f**ked up!!"

After battling back and forth with commenters, Braxton admitted that "when you are not fully healed ( u never will be) u shouldn't watch certain things." She added, "I didn't know it would bring up so many emotions for me!" and revealed she would no longer be watching the remainder of the docuseries.

Jada Pinkett Smith has some questions

In May 2018, per the New York Times, Spotify announced a new policy to stop recommending artists who promote "hate content and hateful conduct." R. Kelly was included in the lists of artists, but less than a month later, the nation's leading streaming service reversed course citing the language of the policy "was too vague." Flash forward to 2019, and a Spotify rep told The Blast that since the premiere of Surviving R. Kelly, the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer's "streams have increased 16%." Jada Pinkett Smith had some questions about that. 

"How is it that R Kelly's music sales have spiked (substantially) since the release of the docuseries Surviving R Kelly?" she wrote on Instagram. "I need some help in understanding. What am I missing???" In the attached video, Pinkett says she's "having a really difficult time understanding why" and hopes the reason isn't "because black girls don't matter enough."

Master P took aim at the victims' parents

Rapper Master P took to Instagram in a pair of videos to share his thoughts on Surviving R. Kelly, or what he called a "reality show" that made Lifetime "a lot of money." His main gripe was with the parents of the alleged victims, some of whom appeared on the show, staging rescue attempts for their daughters.

"The truth is, I don't like the parents. If you somebody daddy and they got your daughter," he proclaimed in the first video. "Y'all know, I'm not going to be on no reality show or Lifetime. I'm going to be on CNN, straight up! It's about to get real. I'm not about to play with nobody. I'm gonna burn it down!"

In the second video, the No Limit CEO and founder doubled down on his stance. "You shouldn't have been on TV if you're a parent unless you're on CNN from a jail cell," he said. "So I don't know if R. Kelly did it or not, that's none of my business. I'm not judging; I'm just saying those parents shouldn't have let it go that far."

Meek Mill & J.R. Smith make valid points

During an #AskMeek Q&A session on Twitter, rapper Meek Mill replied to a fan asking his thoughts on Surviving R. Kelly. "I'm not feeling R after watching that .... it's so much filthy sh*t going on in this industry nobody will ever really speak on the wild sh*t because most of them could have docs like this or even worst done about them!" he tweeted. Meek's condemnation of R. Kelly and the music industry continued in a follow-up tweet. "It don't take a rocket scientist to see what was going on," he continued. "What I'm tryna figure out why did they let it go on soooooo long!"

Referencing Meek Mill's 2017 arrest for illegally riding a dirtbike in NYC, Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith tweeted, "So what y'all telling me is Meek can go to jail for riding a dirt bike but R Kelly can sleep an (sic) p**s on 14 year olds an (sic) NOTHING happens!"

Omarion is retiring all the songs R. Kelly wrote for his band

The 2000s boy band B2K announced a 2019 reunion tour, but there's one problem: R. Kelly wrote two of their biggest hits ("Bump, Bump, Bump" and "Girlfriend"). After the premiere of Surviving R. Kelly, band member Omarion took to Twitter to address to controversy and his plan of action.

Taking to Twitter, Omarion claimed he has yet to see the docuseries, "but felt compelled to voice my position on this very serious issue since #rkelly has written songs for #B2K." He continued, "Those responsible must be held accountable. #rkelly was both a victim & a predator & accordingly must be held accountable but also get professional help. His artistic genius inspired us all. His music is being muted by the darkness of his actions. The dark always comes to light."

He then vowed to retire all R. Kelly-penned songs from the band's set list — but only after the tour. "While I know our fans would be greatly disappointed if we didn't perform those songs on #TheMillennoumTour, after the tour I am retiring those songs from my set list," he tweeted. "I too am raising a future queen. #A.A.R.T. (Artists Acknowledging Responsibility & Truth) Peace y'all."

Damon Dash remembers Aaliyah and calls out Jay Z

Music producer Damon Dash, who was dating Aaliyah at the time of her death in 2001, sat down with Hip Hop Motivation and shared his thoughts on Surviving R. Kelly. He revealed that he watched as much as he "could tolerate" because the victims' stories reminded him of his late love. "I remember Aaliyah trying to talk about it and she couldn't," he said. "She would just leave it at, 'That dude was a bad man.'" He added, "Whatever got done was terrible."

The Roc-a-Fella co-founder also called out his former business partner, Jay Z, for continuing to work with R. Kelly even though he was aware of the accusations against him. Referencing the Best of Both Worlds album Jay Z made with Kelly, Dash said that he questioned Jay Z on how he could work  with Kelly, who, in his words "violated" Aaliyah. Dash also said he told Jay Z to "put [his] part [of the profits] to Aaliyah's breast cancer thing," adding "I never wanted no parts of that. ... I knew, morally, we weren't the same." Although Dash claimed Jay Z's decision to move forward with the collaboration wasn't an "unforgivable" offense, he revealed he "couldn't understand it."

Lady Gaga had 'poor judgment'

Lady Gaga is usually a fierce advocate for sexual assault survivors, but her decision to remain silent about her past working relationship with R. Kelly rubbed many the wrong way. "I wanted to know how Lady Gaga could be on SNL with him as someone who advocates for domestic abuse survivors and, you know, had this ridiculous performance with him on SNL," Surviving R. Kelly executive producer dream hampton said on The Karen Hunter Show.

On Jan. 10, 2019, Gaga took to Twitter to finally address the controversy. Claiming she collaborated with Kelly on "Do What U Want (With My Body)" during a "dark time" in her life as a victim of sexual assault, she admitted, "how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time." Gaga previously defended Kelly in a 2013 interview.

"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," her statement said. The A Star Is Born actress also said she would remove her collaboration with Kelly from iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not work with him again. "I'm sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner," she said.

Common: 'We failed our community as black people'

TMZ caught up with rapper and fellow Chicago native, Common, who shouldered responsibility for the alleged abuse of young black women at the hands of R. Kelly. "We failed as a community because we knew these things were happening," Common said. "And instead of trying to be like, 'Yo. Let's go and try to resolve this situation and free these young ladies and stop this thing that's going on,' we were just like, 'Man, we rocking to the music.'"

"I'm guilty of that too myself because I didn't stop and be like, 'Yo,' and speak against this," he said. "R. Kelly's from my hometown. At the end of the day, he's a human being. He has his issues, and we see that, but I can't condone that, and I shouldn't be allowing that to happen. We failed our community as black people."

Keke Palmer is 'hurt and saddened'

Actress and singer Keke Palmer, who called herself a "student of R. Kelly's," also wrote a lengthy Instagram post to share her reaction to the shocking docuseries. Palmer admires Kelly for overcoming the obstacles he faced as child to become the "musical genius he is today," but she expressed regret that he allegedly put "others through the same darkness."

"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," the True Jackson, VP star said. "I will stand by my sisters because that's simply what's right and what I hope discontinues this behavior in anyone. We have to be good to each other, not all of us accept the light but those of us that do must be responsible!!!! We can not take advantage of each other or accept when someone else does."

Cara Delevingne says Kelly is 'worse than Harvey Weinstein'

Model and actress Cara Delevingne feels "shocked and outraged" that R. Kelly's alleged crimes were allowed to go on for so long. The Suicide Squad star took to Instagram to call Kelly "a predator" who "is far worse than Harvey Weinstein."

"I am not trying to compare the two, my point is, Harvey is being investigated, and R Kelly is not," she said. "We have ourselves to blame in this situation, I knew of the allegations but failed to try, and understand the severity of the situation. I still continued to listen to his music. Stop separating art from the artist, just because he sings like an angel, doesn't mean he is one."

Delevingne claims to have lost "50,000 followers" on Instagram after speaking out against the embattled R&B legend. "Goodbye silence and backwards followers, hello confrontation and forward thinkers. It's going to be a loud year xxx #MuteRKelly," she wrote.

Leslie Jones posted her old stand up blasting him

Comedian Leslie Jones posted a video on Twitter of an old stand-up routine that addressed R. Kelly's 2002 sex tape charges. "Ok you guys I've been doing comedy since 1987 I don't rem [sic] all my material someone just sent me this," she tweeted. In the video, Jones blasts Kelly saying, "he up on rape charges but he still making rape songs." She commented that the old routine is "so funny NOW!" and added "#alwayshatedhim."

Her follow-up tweet struck a more somber tone. "Man after seeing the surviving R Kelly if I had a daughter I would never post her pic," she wrote. "She can't go outside nothing lol ... My heart goes out to those girls cause the grown ups supposed to know better."

Aaliyah's mother speaks out

During the first part of the docuseries, R. Kelly backup singer Jovante Cunningham claimed that she once walked in on the "Ignition" singer, then 27, having sex with a 15-year-old Aaliyah on a tour bus. When asked to describe what she saw (per People), Cunningham replied, "things that an adult should not be doing with a child." 

But just ahead of the Surviving R. Kelly premiere, Aaliyah's mother Diane Haughton released a statement calling Cunningham's account "lies and fabrications" since she and her husband were always present. "The woman and so-called back up singer in the forthcoming Surviving... documentary that describes seeing, meeting or ever breathing the same air as my daughter, Aaliyah, is lying and a liar," the statement read. "My husband and I were always on tour with her and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career. Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now."

R. Kelly has long denied that he and the late Aaliyah were ever married. The R&B singer told GQ that the pair were "best friends" and that he "will never have that conversation with anyone." 

French Montana changed his tune after backlash

After French Montana's halftime performance at the Los Angeles Rams/Dallas Cowboys game on Jan. 12, 2018 (via Billboard), TMZ asked the "Unforgettable" rapper if R. Kelly's music was the same for him after hearing the sexual abuse allegations documented in Surviving R. KellyKhloé Kardashian's former beau responded by quoting lyrics from Kelly's 1994 hit "Bump N' Grind." "He already told you, 'My mind was tellin' me, no, and my body is tellin' me yes,'" he said, leaving the L.A. Coliseum. "He warned us."

He went on to defend Kelly, saying the media "don't let nobody have their legendary moments," before then comparing the R&B crooner's allegations to those that'd been levied against Michael Jackson. "They did Michael Jackson like that. They did R. Kelly like that. All the greats went down like that," he continued. "Let somebody enjoy their legacy, man. Whatever happened, happened, man. He fought in a court of law and won."

After facing online backlash over his comments, Montana took to Twitter to backtrack on his original position. "Let me be clear. My heart is with the victims," he tweeted. "I never thought the people I looked up to as a kid, who sang and danced and gave me hope to become a superstar would become drug addicts, child molestors [sic] and rapists. I am hoping we as a culture create better leaders. We need them."

Kanye defended R. Kelly, and Kim Kardashian defended Kanye

In a video obtained by TMZ, Kanye West appeared to defend R. Kelly during a Sunday morning church service on Jan. 13, 2018. "They want art from the artist. But, anytime they do anything erratic, they just gonna pull up full documentaries on him," the controversial rapper said. "And then, they gonna come with the Michael documentary. We can enjoy all their music all we want." Kanye then sarcastically added, "Let's go ahead and take the da Vincis out of the Louvre while we at it. Let's take down all the art."

A day later, West's wife, Kim Kardashian, hopped on Twitter to defend her husband. "I'm going to nip this in the bud right now. Kanye was speaking about his own experience of everyone quick to say they are cancelling [sic] him because of differences in opinion & not being perfect. The analogies were in context to his own experiences, not defending anyone else," she claimed. In a follow-up tweet, Kardashian added that Kanye doesn't condone "anyone's actions or unacceptable, disgusting behavior," but she maintained her husband's words were "taken out of context."

Neal Brennan claims R. Kelly tried to attack Dave Chapelle

The legendary comedy series Chappelle's Show addressed the allegations against R. Kelly in 2003 with its infamous "Piss on You" sketch, but since in the wake of Surviving R. Kelly, Chappelle'ss Show co-creator Neal Brennan has pushed back on claims that the skit made light of Kelly's alleged crimes

"I don't think people understand what comedy is supposed to do," Brennan said in the interview with The Breakfast Club. "We will observe things; we will make fun of things. Did people want us to round up a posse and go arrest R. Kelly? Like, what were we supposed to do?" Brennan claims the show was "trying to humiliate" R. Kelly and not trying to "normalize" his behavior. Brennan also revealed that Kelly allegedly tried to get physical with comedian Dave Chappelle after the skit aired. "R. Kelly wanted to fight Dave," Brennan claimed. "His goons stepped to Dave in Chicago, and Dave's goons intervened. The goons negotiated."

Dave Chappelle says 'it's gotta get better'

Dave Chappelle declined to be interviewed for Surviving R. Kelly, but the comedian broke his silence during a set at the West Hollywood Improv. Per a video obtained by TMZ, Chappelle opened up about that aforementioned confrontation with R. Kelly. According to Chappelle, Kelly said, "How you gonna do a video of me peeing on girls like that?" Chapelle fired back with: "How YOU gonna do a video of peeing on girls like that?'"

Chappelle said there needs to be a "comedy movement" where people are free to call out "what's wrong" in society. "Because, yeah, it's gotta be better ... Say what needs to be said, and let's get this work done."

Erykah Badu is 'putting up a prayer' for R. Kelly

During the 2015 Soul Train Awards (via VH1), singer Erykah Badu claimed R. Kelly "has done more for black people than anyone," so it's not necessarily surprising that she reportedly turned down an offer to appear in Surviving R. Kelly. However, during a concert at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom in January 2019, her comments regarding the disgraced R&B hit-maker caused a big backlash. According to The Independent, the "Window Seat" asked the crowd: "What if one of the people who was assaulted by R. Kelly becomes an offender? We gonna crucify them too? How do we do this? Just something to think about." She added that she was "putting up a prayer right now for R," reported The Grapevine

Some members of the audience weren't feeling her sentiment. "I really want to say how much I loved Erykah Badu's concert tonight. But i can't get over how she tried to justify and defend R. Kelly's actions and reputation during her set... I'm so disappointed..." @jacquemarquez_ tweeted.

Attempting to clarify her intent, Badu later tweeted, "I love you. Unconditionally. That doesn't mean I support your poor choices. I want healing for you and anyone you have hurt as a result of you being hurt. Is that strange to you? That's all I've ever said. Anything else has been fabricated or taken out of context."

R. Kelly's daughter called him a 'monster'

R. Kelly's estranged daughter, Joann Kelly, who goes by the stage name Buku Abi, posted a lengthy Instagram Story to address the damning allegations against her father in Surviving R. Kelly. Saying that her family "would never condone, support or be apart [sic] of anything negative" her father has done or continues to do, Abi explained why she hasn't spoken out sooner. "I just want you all to understand that devastated is an understatement for all that I feel currently," she wrote (via USA Today). "I pray for all the families & women who have been affected by my father's actions. Trust, I am deeply affected by all of this. However, it had been very difficult to process it all. Let alone gather all the right words to express everything I feel."

She went on to say that she is "well aware" that her father is a "monster." She added, "I grew up in that house. My choice not to speak on him and what he does is for my peace of mind. My emotional state. And for MY healing."

R. Kelly responds & the fallout

Sources told TMZ that although R. Kelly "did not watch" the docuseries, he was "disgusted" by it, and claimed everyone involved has a "vendetta" against him. According to the publication, Kelly claimed he had defenders ready to sit down for the cameras "but producers shut them out." Exactly how angry was the singer? "He's going to sue everybody who had anything to do with this," a source revealed.

According to sources close to the disgraced singer who spoke with TMZ, Kelly's retaliation came quickly with the launch of Surviving Lies, a Facebook page that was designed to "expose all of his accusers as liars" and "reveal their true motivations behind their allegations." Per the Daily Mail, a video "of one accuser engaging in sexual relations" and screenshots of another accuser's text messages were posted to the page, causing Facebook to pull the plug. "We do not tolerate bullying or sharing other's private contact information and take action on content that violates our policies as soon as we're aware," a representative said in a statement.

However, violating Facebook's community standards is the least of R. Kelly's worries now, because per the New York Times, "prosecutors in Chicago and Atlanta are seeking information from any potential victims or witnesses" after the airing for Surviving R. Kelly.