In 2017, Buzzfeed published a comprehensive report that detailed an alleged “sex cult” spearheaded by R. Kelly. One of the stories featured the experience of a woman named Jerhonda Pace who said Kelly was physically and mentally abusive during their encounters. She was a minor when they first met. To shed light on Kelly’s actions that also affected other women, Pace broke a non-disclosure agreement.
Since that revelation, other reports have surfaced that state Kelly is holding women against their will in his Georgia home. Recently, two more women came forward to detail their recollections and the Time’s Up entity backed the #MuteRKelly movement to bring justice to the women of color that have been impacted by Kelly’s reported abuse.
The #MuteRKelly group called for his record label (RCA), and other outlets that support his music to pull its support. Now, Spotify is joining the move and flagged Kelly’s music on its streaming service’s playlists. In a statement issued to Billboard on Thursday (May 10), Spotify noted that while the singer/songwriter’s music “will still be available on the service,” it will not receive any form of promotion.
Kelly’s discography will also be flagged by algorithms and playlists like the platform’s “Discover Weekly” which curates a group of songs a user might enjoy. “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values,” the statement reads. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
In August 2017, Spotify began the removal of bands or solo musicians with music that can be classified under hate speech after Digital Music News discovered “27 white supremacist hate bands” on the streaming service. Now enters Spotify’s hate content and hateful conduct public policy, that launched today (May 10).
In order to effectively sift out content that promotes hate speech or racism, Spotify partnered with The Anti-Defamation League, The Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAAD, Muslim Advocates, and more. The fate of R. Kelly’s discography is the first high-profile move of the company under this new mandate.
On Megan Kelly TODAY, the two women that shared their stories, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, said they had to ask for permission to use the bathroom. They were also “required to call him Daddy.” On the business side, the Tom Joyner Morning Show announced the end of Kelly’s music being played on its platform.
Kelly’s management team previously issued a statement in response to reports of sexual misconduct, stating: “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.”