The haunting Surviving R. Kelly docuseries presented by Lifetime on Jan. 21 took the music world by storm. A ripple effect caused an uprising against R. Kelly thanks to the eye-opening revelations made by alleged victims, journalists, family members and former business partners throughout the well-done six-part series, which drew in over 26 million viewers with its debut.
Part two of Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact aired on Lifetime on Saturday night (May 4) with mental health professionals, journalists, legal analysts, and attorneys examining the fallout of what exactly has transpired around the Chicago native in the last four months. Back in February, Cook County, Ill. launched an investigation against the embattled R&B star for his decades’ worth of alleged sexual abuse of minors, which resulted in him being indicted on 10 felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Kelly was bailed out twice in less than two weeks by a benefactor. After regaining his freedom in late February, Kelly wanted to tell his side of the story. He ended up sitting down with CBS News reporter Gayle King for an explosive interview, which backfired as Kelly lost his cool and became the face of the internet with a plethora of memes.
Many artists looked to distance themselves from Kelly, as some musicians such as Lady Gaga had their collaborations with the “Ignition” singer completely scrubbed from streaming services. The Mute R. Kelly movement continued in music with radio stations banning his music from their airwaves. Amid public pressure, RCA Records/Sony Music even dropped their formerly lucrative signee from the label following the docuseries’ backlash. Kelly has continued to vehemently deny all allegations of abuse.
With the Soledad O’Brien-hosted special putting everything in perspective, here are our five biggest takeaways from part two of Surviving R. Kelly.
1. R. Kelly’s Streaming Numbers Doubled in the Days Following the Docuseries
In the wake of the shocking Surviving R. Kelly doc, Kelly’s streams doubled and his music benefitted from a bizarre spike in sales to kick off 2019. A pair of the docuseries’ producers offered up the viable explanation that consumers may have just been curious to connect the dots with some of the hits in his discography actually having a deeper, twisted secondary meaning.
“To me, that doesn’t mean there are way more supporters out there — they are just curious,” said Jesse Daniels. Tamra Simons added that some probably never even pressed play on Kelly’s music in the past: “I personally think they spiked because people want to go back and hear the lyrics. Some people didn’t know who Kelly was; they had never heard his music.”
2. Calls to Sexual Assault Hotlines Have Increased by 35 Percent
With Surviving R. Kelly arriving at the height of the #MeToo movement, women are encouraged to speak out about their history of abuse and experiences now more than ever. The Impact detailed that sexual assault hotline traffic had increased by a robust 35 percent in the weeks following the doc’s airing. When interviewing someone who worked for a national rape crisis group, New York Times journalist Shaila Dewan was appalled to hear him say that one of the top questions they get on the daily is, “Here’s what happened. Was I raped?”
O’Brien then added some statistics provided by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. One stated that one in three women experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime; another revealed that 63 percent of sexual assaults are never even reported to law enforcement at all. Dr. Roy Lubit, an adult psychiatrist, explained that an “overwhelming majority of [assault victims] don’t tell anyone in the first year.”
3. R. Kelly’s Lawyer, Steven Greenberg, Claims All of the Alleged Victims Are Liars
Previously speaking to Dateline, Greenberg accused “every one” of R. Kelly’s alleged victims of being a liar. “If you’re going to make these kinds of allegations, then let’s test them and see if they’re true. We’re going to find out they’re not true,” he said when participating in The Impact doc. Kelly’s longtime legal rep believes his client gave “truthful” answers during his bombshell interview with King in March. “People who don’t like R. Kelly, it doesn’t matter if he did perfect during that interview — they weren’t going to like it,” he said.
Greenberg doesn’t see Kelly being at fault for the numerous girls who were featured in dream hampton’s Surviving R. Kelly that have lost connection with their parents since being isolated under the R&B singer’s gawking eye. “I don’t know why the parents can’t connect with their daughters. I think that’s an issue between them and their daughters,” he guesses. “I don’t think R. Kelly has anything to do with that.”
4. Victim Testimonies & DNA Evidence Lead R. Kelly to More Uphill Legal Battles Than 2008 Trial
R. Kelly’s legal resources allowed him to delay his 2002 initial charges until trial six years later, which ultimately helped lead to his acquittal on child pornography charges. NBC News legal contributor Katie Phang believes that there are lessons to be learned from the botched prosecution that could help build a stronger case to put him behind bars for good. “If you’re the prosecution, you’re going to want to break down that case and see where were the pitfalls,” she explains. “In the present day case that R. Kelly is facing in 2019, there also is DNA evidence, which is something that is a lot stronger today than it was back in 2008.”
Danny Cevallos, who serves as a legal analyst over at NBC, also feels that whenever R. Kelly ends up at trial facing his felony sexual abuse charges, he’s staring down a much tougher journey than the one he slipped out of in 2008. “Arguably, this time around, R. Kelly faces more of an uphill battle because you will have victims coming in to testify to point their finger at the defendant sitting at the table and say, ‘That’s the man who assaulted me.’ And that can be really compelling for jurors,” he asserted.
5. Spotify Adds Mute Button
Spotify found themselves in some hot water when they tried to introduce a “hateful conduct” policy that would have banned artists accused of certain crimes, including R. Kelly, from having prime real estate on their playlists. They quickly did away from the idea in 2018. Billboard‘s Dan Rys feels that companies like Spotify need to tread lightly with their selective morality based on accusations rather than convictions, which creates a slippery slope: “You’re opening up Pandora’s Box of basically including hundreds of popular artists from the last 50 or 60 years,” he said.
The popular streaming service decided to leave the power of the decision making up to their users by quietly introducing a mute button less than three weeks after Surviving R. Kelly hit Lifetime in January. The feature allows subscribers to not have a selected artist pop up in random playlist shuffles, radio stations or be a part of their music library completely.