Why You Can Expect Silence from These Legends When it Comes to R. Kelly's History of Abuse

Screenshot: Curiouzly

As viewers brace for the third and final installment of Surviving R. Kelly’s Lifetime Network premier, social media users worldwide have been discussing the evidence that 51 year-old Chicago-born singer Robert “R.” Kelly acted in concert with and with the support of a loyal network of handlers, lawyers, venues, musicians, labels, hangers on and next of kin.

The six-part, six-hour series, executive produced by writer, documentarian and pilot dream hampton, has, through its first four parts, taken care to show viewers the machine behind the man, largely with the words of individuals once tasked with suspending their disbelief in service of Kelly’s career. Or their own.

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Still, these interviews with producers and former employees and collaborators take a back seat to the oft-angry, sometimes trembling, ever-resolute voices of women who have survived Kelly’s physical, emotional and financial abuse. Their opinions, confirmed by the nervous laughter and darting eyes of Kelly’s former allies, has left viewers to wonder why so many of Kelly’s contemporaries have remained silent. And why so many kept collaborating with him, long after his sins were laid bare.

While the nature of R. Kelly’s run-ins with the legal system have made his habits juicy tabloid fodder, he’s not the only black artist of note with a history of abuse.

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Though he has maintained his innocence (each episode has begun with a note reminding viewers) He’s also got a long list of collaborators who should’ve known better.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of folks whose voices may remain absent from the chorus decrying the life and career of R. Kelly.

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Drake

Put simply, Drake has established a recent history of proximity to girls under the age of 18. His close relationship with 14-year-old Stranger Things star Millie Bobbi Brown: per Brown, the 32-year-old rapper texts her dating advice. More recently, video has surfaced of Drake dancing with, kissing and groping a girl onstage.

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After learning the fan was 17, Drake danced with her again, fondling her breasts as the crowd cheered and laughed. While news outlets have yet to nail down an exact year (and since we’re not prepared to try) it’s worth noting that Drake became a mainstream act in 2009 with the release of his critically acclaimed mixtape, So Far Gone. Drake was born in 1986, putting the portion of his career during which he would have sold out a venue past the age of 23. An overly generous estimate would place the age difference at six years.

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As of this article’s writing, Drake has yet to issue a response.

Diddy

Diddy’s artist development operation, Flavor Camp, was responsible for giving Usher his edge. Let Usher explain.

In an interview with Kevin Hart, Diddy confirmed their close relationship.

There’s also the matter of the age of the mother of his oldest child, Misa Hylton. Hylton was romantically involved with Diddy at 17, when she worked as a stylist for Jodeci, according to a 2017 interview with Billboard:

It was with Jodeci and happened because of a “right place, right time” situation. My boyfriend at the time was Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy), who was an intern when we met and had just got promoted to A&R. I was there as he was working with the group and shaping their album. I was able to help him work on the image and to sell it to Andre Harrell. At that time, the look for R&B singers were hard bottom shoes and suits, but we had what was then considered a crazy idea: to put these singers in leather, combat boots, hoodies and baseball caps that were turned backwards. Andre immediately said “hell no,” but after about two hours of going back and forth, we convinced him to give us this opportunity, and after this transformation Jodeci’s career catapulted. Andre came back to me with another opportunity, this time a female solo artist, and he thought we’d work great together since I was from Mount Vernon, NY and she was from Yonkers, NY. Her name was Mary J. Blige.

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According to accepted history, Diddy was fired in 1993 after turning Jodeci into a runaway success beginning in 1991, at the age of 22. If Misa Hylton’s listed age of 41 is accurate, she’d have been 16 in 1993, when she gave birth to her son, Justin Combs.

Timbaland

TImbaland was in love with Aaliyah. Per the multiplatinum producer and close friend and collaborator of the slain singer, from 2011:

“When I first met Aaliyah—it time for the world to hear this, I’m gonna give a little secret—I was in love with her. I said, But I’m not…She just a baby, I’m old,” Timbaland says. “I said to myself, ‘I’m just gonna be her brother.’ Oh man, I was fightin’, I was fightin’ a lot—a big war. But I loved Aaliyah.”

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Chance the Rapper

While Chance has endeared himself to fans and national leaders with his charming persona and philanthropy, Chicago-born Chancellor Bennett collaborated and performed with R. Kelly in 2014, years after his his rash of legal issues stemming from his abusive habits.

Bennett later apologized for his association with Kelly, calling him a “fucking child molester.

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Kanye West

Before Kanye West’s MAGA heel turn, he seemed to take little issue with Tyga’s decision to “get in early” with Kylie Jenner, who was a minor when they began popping up as an item.

West also came under fire for affirming his friendship with A$AP Mob affiliate A$AP Bari after he was accused of sexual assault in 2017.

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Bari, born Jabari Shelton, recently plead guilty and accepted a fine in his assault case in London.

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R. Kelly also appeared on the intro to West’s 2012's Cruel Summer album.

Kendrick Lamar

Compton rap titan Kendrick Lamar has won critical acclaim and droves of loyal fans with his honesty and storytelling. After Spotify’s decision to pull music from Kelly and slain Florida rapper XXXTentacion in May of 2018, Kendrick Lamar publicly threatened to pull his catalog from the streaming service in support of the rapper. Born Jahseh Onfroy, the 20-year old rapper had a documented history of domestic abuse. Opting to save users in their race with Apple Music, Spotify reneged.

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Joe Budden

New Jersey-born Joe Budden was accused of causing the miscarriage of ex-girlfriend Esther Baxter by sitting on her stomach and choking her during a high-risk pregnancy. Budden denied her claims in a Breakfast Club interview in 2011, claiming the photos of her abuse were doctored.

In his song “Ordinary Love Shit 3,” he spoke on the altercation:

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Charlemagne tha God

Power 105.1's talismanic on-air talent has his own history of questionable behavior. He admitted to giving a woman Spanish fly and having sex with her while she was “wasted” during an encounter in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. According the Charlemagne, born Lenard Larry McKelvey, during a podcast appearance in 2015:

“I got this girl real drunk, and I fu—we fucked,” McKelvey says before Schultz cuts him off.

“Just that sentence sound a little fishy,” Schultz interjects. “‘I got her drunk.’”

McKelvey continues his story, detailing how he went to “the sex store” to get Spanish Fly, which he then put into both of their E&J drinks. Once the girl got drunk, McKelvey says he had sex with her, adding that “a lot of my boys” also tried to come in and have sex with the woman (he says he turned them away).

“Running a train on her, that’s rape,” McKelvey says, laughing.

The next morning, however, McKelvey says the girl had no recollection of their sexual encounter, asking him what happened the night before. When he told her they had sex, McKelvey says the girl told him, “‘Well I’m just glad it was you.’”

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Big Sean

Born Sean Anderson, Detroit rapper Big Sean accepted a plea deal for misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment in 2011 in a sexual assault case wherein the victim, a 17-year-old girl claimed Big Sean and Willie Antonio “Sayitainttone” Hansbro had sexually assaulted her.

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Nas

Queens rapper Nasir Jones has come under fire lately after singer and ex-wife Kelis went public with her claims of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband. Jones denied the allegations with a flurry of captions on Instagram.

Nas also vividly describes a violent sexual assault in his 2004 song “You Know My Style,” which (Trigger Warning: Description of sexual assault) can be heard below.

Russell Simmons

Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons spent 11 years married to model and entrepreneur Kimora Lee Perkins until their divorce in 2009. in a statement after her ex-husband was accused of sexual assault, Perkins issued a statement on Instagram.

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If the 41-year-old Perkins’ timeline is to be believed, Simmons became her close friend between 15 and 16 years old.

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Jay-Z

A month after a videotape showing R. Kelly commit a number of sex acts with a young girl, Jay Z released the Best of Both Worlds collaborative album with R. Kelly, on March 19th of 2002.

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Kelly would embark on a national tour with Jay-Z that ended abruptly after Kelly was maced by one of Jay-Z’s associates. Though many believe Kelly was maced over the nature of his abusive habits, the tour likely dissolved over the famously particular Jay-Z’s issues with Kelly’s “lack of professionalism.

Jay-Z has remained silent on the accusations against Kelly since.

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About the author

Ibn Safir

Contributing Editor. When he's not pullin' up, he's usually jumpin' out. You can find him in the cut.