R. Kelly hasn’t seen the documentary Surviving R. Kelly, but is apparently going to sue everyone who was involved with the project.
The rapper has faced accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse for more than two decades, allegations which were recently explored in the six-part documentary that aired over three nights, beginning January 4.
Each hour-long episode featured commentary from Kelly’s critics, including founder of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke and singer John Legend, as well as testimonials from women who accuse the singer of abuse; one of which was ex-wife Andrea Lee.
According to The New York Times the women described how they were controlled or abused by the rapper, often when they were teenagers.
The documentary aired on Lifetime, where a total of 1.9 million viewers tuned in to hear the stories of those who accused Kelly. Deadline report the show broke records for the channel and achieved the best performance in more than two years in all key demographics.
Dream Hampton, an executive producer of the documentary, explained the third and fourth episodes focused on Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial, while the fifth and sixth episodes examined more recent allegations and followed parents who were trying to free their daughters from the rapper’s influence.
Expressing her hopes for reactions to the documentary, Dream said:
I wish that he would experience a kind of social death, and that people who still vociferously declare him innocent — or their favorite artist, or worthy of having his work separated from who he is — that they are denied that.
Kelly has continuously denied the allegations made against him, and his team support the rapper, calling the movement ‘a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time’.
According to The New York Times, a statement released by his representatives back in 2018 – in response to a #MuteRKelly hashtag – read:
R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticising a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target.
R. Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never — and will never — be silenced. Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it.
We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.
Following the documentary’s release, TMZ report the 51-year-old rapper was ‘disgusted’ by the accusations made against him in the show. Kelly apparently claimed he didn’t even know half of the people who spoke out against him.
The rapper didn’t watch any of the episodes, and sources in day-to-day contact with him have reportedly said he views the series as a ‘vendetta’ against him.
Kelly is said to be resolute about taking action against those involved with the documentary, with one source explaining ‘he’s going to sue everybody who had anything to do with this.’
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.