The star was the only high profile entertainer to accept an invitation to appear in a docuseries about Kelly’s alleged crimes
John Legend is going against the culture of silence that has protected R. Kelly, despite the decades of horrific accusations against the R&B singer. Legend is one of the only high profile musicians to take part in Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly docu-series, in which he says: “R. Kelly has brought so much pain to so many people”.
Viewers have praised Legend for lifting up the voice of these relatively unknown women by participating. However, he tweeted that for him, taking part in the documentary was an “easy decision”. “To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn't feel risky at all. I believe these women and don't give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist,” he wrote.
In another post, he said: “We should all thank my friend @dreamhampton for her very necessary work to create #SurvivingRKelly. These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard. I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice.”
To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn't feel risky at all. I believe these women and don't give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 4, 2019
The first two instalments of the series aired yesterday (January 3), and viewers were stunned at the allegations made by the women – including Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea. Her stories about the singer ranged from paedophilia to devastating physical abuse. The executive producer behind the series, dream hampton, has been vocal about the lack of support she received for the project from other entertainers.
“I asked Jay-Z, I asked Mary J. Blige, I asked Lil Kim, Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle,” she said in an interview with Shadow and Act. They all declined. “I mean, most people just don’t want to touch it. I remember (Questlove) was like, ‘I would do anything for you but I can’t do this.’ It’s not because they support him, it’s because it’s so messy and muddy. It’s that turning away that has allowed this to go on.”
The producer has previously described this project as a “war” between her and R. Kelly. An unnamed man from Chicago threatened to shoot up a New York screening of the series last month. “I don’t ever want to underestimate him," she said. “This is a man who has built systems around his abuse, which is something that you’ll see in the docuseries.”
”There are no big paychecks for these women. We can't pay them to be in a documentary. There are no endorsement deals. This kind of exposure doesn't lead to some great something. I admire them so much and have all the respect in the world for them,” @dreamhampton#SurvivingRKelly— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) January 4, 2019
She continued: “There are whole systems in place: housing, runners, rules. There are women decades apart testifying to the kind of rules that they were subjected to living with this man, dealing with this man. There are hundreds, probably thousands of tapes made of them (by R. Kelly) without their permission.”
“He's also deeply manipulative. These are women who didn’t know each other, 20 years apart, and they'd be talking about being made to sign false confessions and he’d say, ‘This is my insurance that you don't hurt me the way these other women have hurt me.’ So, I knew we were dealing with someone that we may not want to dismiss. He’s dangerous,” hampton said.
According to TMZ, R Kelly’s lawyer has threatened to sue Lifetime for the series. The singer has claimed he has recording that prove the network was aware that “some of the girls are lying, but that the budget was too high to turn back now.”
The rest of Surviving R. Kelly will air on Lifetime on Friday and Saturday. Watch a clip below.
Dazed has reached out to R. Kelly’s representatives for comment.