Lady Gaga has finally released a statement about her collaboration with R. Kelly on her album Artpop more than five years ago. Following the release of Dream Hampton’s six-part Lifetime docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, several artists who worked with Kelly in the past have spoken out about the allegations against him. This includes Gaga, who featured the R&B singer on the track, “Do What U Want” and performed with him live on SNL and at the American Music Awards in 2013.
At the time, Gaga spoke out in support of Kelly, telling reporters at a press conference in Japan. “R. Kelly and I have sometimes very untrue things written about us,” she said. “So, in a way, this was a bond between us that we were able to say, the public, they can have our bodies, but they cannot have our mind or our heart. It was a really natural collaboration.”
By 2013, Kelly’s illegal marriage to Aaliyah had occurred nearly two decades earlier and he faced very public charges for child pornography in the years following. Surviving R. Kelly has brought renewed attention to both Kelly’s past and to new accounts of alleged sexual manipulation and abuse against him in recent years. Gaga apologized Thursday for their collaboration, calling the allegations against Kelly “horrifying and indefensible.” The Star Is Born actress went on to say that she “made both the song and the video at a dark time in [her] life.”
Lady Gaga is not the only artist to apologize for working with the disgraced singer. Chance the Rapper, who worked with Kelly in 2015 on the song “Somewhere in Paradise,” also took to Twitter to apologize to survivors “and for taking this long to speak out.”
While Dream Hampton revealed that artists like Jay-Z, Questlove, Lady Gaga, Erykah Badu, and Celine Dion declined to participate in Surviving R. Kelly, John Legend is featured in the docuseries. While Legend has not worked directly with Kelly, he did sample “Ignition (Remix)” in his 2004 song, “Alright.”
Kelly is now under criminal investigation for sexual abuse in Georgia. While public opinion of Kelly has dipped on social media and his radio airplay has heavily declined, Nielsen Music reported that on Jan. 5, on-demand steams of Kelly’s music had gone up 116 percent, with a total of 4.3 million audio and video streams.
Update, Jan. 10, 3:05 p.m.: The band Phoenix also apologized Thursday for collaborating with Kelly and for not being more informed of the allegations against him. The band featured Kelly on a remix of their song, “Trying to Be Cool” and brought Kelly on stage to perform the song’s remix when they headlined Coachella in 2013.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.