After years of disturbing allegations and more recent detailed reports of abuse, R. Kelly is experiencing something new: professional consequences for his alleged behavior. In the wake of Lifetime’s documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, a growing number of celebrities, musicians, and former collaborators have publicly denounced Kelly and asserted their support for his accusers. Some, like Phoenix, have issued statements or formal apologies, in their case for performing with Kelly at Coachella in 2013. Some of his collaborators, though, have begun to pull their songs with Kelly off streaming services. Here is a list of songs that have been removed from platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube:
Céline Dion – “I’m Your Angel” (ft. R. Kelly)
Written and produced by R. Kelly, “I’m Your Angel” spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1998, going on to sell more than 1.5 million copies and earning a nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 1999 Grammys. Dion has not yet commented on her decision to remove the song from streaming services. Surviving R. Kelly executive producer dream hampton also said in an interview that Dion was one of many artists who refused the opportunity to participate in the Lifetime documentary series.
Chance the Rapper – “Somewhere in Paradise” (ft. Jeremih & R. Kelly)
Chance the Rapper dropped “Somewhere in Paradise” as a one-off single in 2015, as he was transitioning away from his work on Surf with Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment and gearing up for his 2016 solo tape Coloring Book. Unlike prior single “Angels,” “Somewhere in Paradise” didn’t make the final Coloring Book tracklist. Chance is one of just a few Kelly collaborators featured in Surviving R. Kelly. In the series’ final episode, Chance admits that “making a song with R. Kelly was a mistake.” On Twitter, he issued an extended statement, saying 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 woman and girls. I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out.” Chance has since removed “Somewhere in Paradise” from streaming services, though it’s still available on his Soundcloud.
Lady Gaga – “Do What U Want” (ft. R. Kelly)
In 2013, Lady Gaga released “Do What U Want” as a single for her third album, Artpop. The song is a duet with R. Kelly, whose repeated chants of “Do what I want with your body” are even more impossible to ignore now than they were at the time. Terry Richardson directed the music video, which was never officially released on account of terrible optics that speak for themselves. A live rendition of the track during the 2013 American Music Awards, in which R. Kelly played a horny U.S. president, stirred further controversy. On January 9, Gaga addressed the song in a lengthy Twitter statement. “What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible,” she wrote, before going on to address her own experience as a survivor of sexual assault and claiming that “Do What U Want” (with its thematic interplay between sex and power) was the result of “explicitly twisted” thinking on her part. “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.” Since the statement, “Do What U Want” has indeed been removed from streaming services, though the track reportedly saw a 13,720% increase in sales in the period between Gaga’s apology and its eventual removal.
Jennifer Hudson – “Where You At” and “It’s Your World” (ft. R. Kelly)
R. Kelly wrote and co-produced “Where You At,” the lead single for Hudson’s 2011 album I Remember Me. The song debuted at No. 96 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at No. 64, becoming the singer’s fourth-highest charting track. Hudson performed it on four daytime talk shows, including Oprah and Ellen, as well as American Idol. She has removed the song from Spotify and Apple Music. Hudson has also pulled “It’s Your World,” the third single for her 2014 album JHUD, from Apple Music. Kelly co-wrote the song and features on it. Hudson has not commented on either song’s removal.