Following the release of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly docuseries that aired in six parts over the weekend, community leaders are reinforcing efforts to ban R. Kelly from the airwaves.
Project Islamic Hope President Najee Ali and Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson held a press conference in front of local Los Angeles radio station Radio FREE 102.3 KJLH on Monday morning (Jan. 7) to call on iHeartRadio and Radio One to stop playing Kelly’s music. KJLH, which is owned by Stevie Wonder, confirmed to Ali that the station stopped playing Kelly’s music in 2018 after more allegations against the artist came out.
“We are here at KJLH radio to commend Stevie Wonder and the owner of the station and station management for banning R. Kelly’s music on the airwaves. Now we want iHeartRadio and Radio One to follow suit,” said Ali. “It is critical that urban radio stop enriching R. Kelly by playing his music, stop making him relevant and stop making money off of the fact that they play R. Kelly’s music and are essentially partners in him preying on young black girls.”
Kelly has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct and was acquitted in 2008 of multiple counts of possession of child porn in the infamous “pee tape” trial.
In 2018, Spotify made the public decision to remove Kelly from their promoted playlists in response to multiple allegations the “Ignition” singer was running a sex cult and holding women against their will. Apple Music and other streaming platforms soon did the same.
However, after the first episodes Surviving R. Kelly aired, a representative from Spotify told The Blast that streams of the artist’s music rose 16 percent.
“A report came out that since Surviving R. Kelly came out he has actually made more money. He has actually sold more records,” said Hutchinson. “You’ve got tens of thousands of people that haven’t gotten the message even though the light has been shined on R. Kelly.”
According to Deadline, the doceseries netted Lifetime their largest viewership in two years with 1.9 million viewers. The six-part series features interviews with alleged survivors of Kelly’s mental, physical and sexual abuse as well as discussions with former employees of the artist and high-profile figures such as John Legend and talk show host Wendy Williams.
“We are not talking censorship,” Hutchinson continued. “We are not telling R. Kelly what he can sing and what he can play and what he should be producing. We are saying that when you boycott R. Kelly, when you boycott his music you’re sending a powerful message.”
He added, “You have many radio stations that have enabled R. Kelly by buying his product. Essentially what you are doing is saying yes to sexual molestation, to sexual perversion, to sexual pandering. In this case, I’m sorry, you cannot separate the message from the messenger.”