R. Kelly has been condemned by Time’s Up, by the general public, and by his accusers.
Even his own daughter calls him a monster.
Now, Sony Music has finally taken an important step and dissolved their working relationship with R. Kelly.
VarietyÂ reports that Sony Music has finally dropped R. Kelly.
That is great news, but we probably should not expect to hear some major announcement any time soon.
“Kellyâ€™s presence on the RCA website (where he remains listed) will not indicate his departure from the company,” Variety notes.
The report explains: “as his back catalog will remain with RCA/Sony.”
Kelly’s last album for Sony was a Christmas-motif project in 2016.
He has released several songs independently in the few years since, but that was presumably with Sony’s consent, as Variety notes.
This move is not a coincidence.
The women’s group Ultraviolet commissioned a plane to fly a “RCA/Sony: Drop Sexual Predator R. Kelly” banner over Sony Musicâ€™s Los Angeles offices.
At the same time, there was a live protest at Sony’s New York office.
But it’s more than that.
The public outcry about R. Kelly has been ongoing for years.
In recent weeks, however, it has risen to an outraged roar.
Over the past couple of years, a number of courageous women have given detailed interviews about their own personal traumas.
They have described the horrors of R. Kelly’s alleged sex cult, sharing tales of violence, starvation, grooming, and abuse.
Then, in 2018, Time’s Up — which grew out of the #MeToo movement — launched the #MuteRKelly campaign.
Supporting the music means supporting the man, and who could sleep at night after supporting R. Kelly?
Everything came to a head just weeks ago when the harrowing Surviving R. Kelly docuseries aired.
Lifetime aired several episodes of survivors speaking directly about their nightmarish experiences, while others who knew Kelly spoke of what they had witnessed.
Reading about R. Kelly is one thing. Listening to survivors speak can be even more haunting.
This is not the first time that Sony has shown that executives are very conscious of public opinion.
We are all uncomfortably familiar with notorious creep Dr. Luke’s relentless legal battle to prevent Kesha from gaining professional independence.
Kesha accuses the disgraced producer of sexual abuse, and her story elicited sympathy from all over the globe.
Public outcry was part of the equation.
The other part was big-name celebrities speaking out. Adele told the thousands who came to see her that she supports Kesha.
Lady Gaga voiced her support. Taylor Swift helped directly, sending Kesha a check to help pay for her legal battle.
Stories leaked from within Sony of execs trying to figure out how they could sever all ties with Dr. Luke.
Other parts of the music industry have tried to enact policies to deal with accused sexual predators.
In 2018, Spotify tried to institute a policy that would deplatform monsters.
The streaming behemoth briefly penalized two of the most vile men in the music industry: R. Kelly and XXXTentacion.
R. Kelly has been accused of sexual predation, particularly upon minors, for years.
XXXTentacion was famously accused of multiple acts of extreme violence, damaging his girlfriend’s skull and delivering a homophobic beatdown.
Ultimately, Spotify walked back their vaguely defined policy due to a number of issues.
(Pro-tip: a policy that bans the scum of the earth is great, but it cannot look like you’re only banning black men)
While people don’t have to worry about XXXTentacion anymore, unfortunately R. Kelly remains free.
But R. Kelly might not be free forever.
While it is true that he was able to weasel out of child pornography charges in 2000, public pressure impacts more people than just Sony execs.
R. Kelly is now under criminal investigation.
Nothing is guaranteed, especially when the women believed to be his current victims are unlikely to dare speak against him.
But that is something, and if reports are to be believed, he is really feeling the pressure — perhaps for the first time in decades.
Sony Music dropping R. Kelly is a hell of a good start, but it’s just the beginning.