After a year of fallout around the abuse of women by powerful men, one of the biggest stars in the music biz is getting his comeuppance. In joining onto the movement #MuteRKelly, Time's Up is calling for an investigation into the rapper's numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior targeting young women of color. The hashtag, which has been around for months, is picking up serious steam with celebrities and organizations signing on to call for revoking Kelly's support.
Time's Up, most famously associated with the hashtag surrounding the deluge of allegations of sexism and abuse by some of the world's most powerful men, is an organization dedicated to bringing justice to those victims. And on Monday, April 30, the Women of Color of Time's Up officially backed the movement to boycott Kelly.
In a statement, the organization pointed out Kelly's 25-year success story as a hip hop artist. But during this time, Time's Up said,
He also.... married a girl under 18 years of age; was sued by at least 4 women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor; was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography; has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm.
R. Kelly, whose stage name is short for his real name, Robert Kelly, was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography in 2002, and later acquitted of those charges in 2008. The marriage to which the statement is referring is that of Kelly's relationship with singer Aaliyah; a marriage certificate showed that the nuptials had falsified her age as 18, and it in fact took place when she was just 15. The marriage was annulled months later. Additionally, a report by BuzzFeed published in July 2017 detailed a timeline of R. Kelly allegedly imprisoning young women in a cult-like fashion, though Kelly "unequivocally denied" these allegations.
Despite the numerous allegations and legal proceedings that drew scrutiny on his relations with young women, the rapper continued to perform at and book shows globally.
Time's Up, in its statement Monday, made clear what they were asking for, saying,
The scars of history make certain that we are not interested in persecuting anyone without just cause. With that said, we demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly's abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades now. And we declare with great vigilance and a united voice to anyone who wants to silence us — their time is up.
Time's Up also called on specific entities to join the movement in its statement. The group named RCA Records, Ticketmaster, Spotify, Apple Music, and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex which is hosting his upcoming show to join the movement and "insist on safety and dignity for women of all kinds."
On Twitter, the hashtag showed how many users — notably, celebrities — supported the movement to boycott R. Kelly.
"All, all, all in together girls," tweeted Tarana Burke, who is credited with starting the #MeToo movement. "It's going DOWN!! #muterkelly once and for all!"
"Enough Is Enough: R. Kelly has a decades long history of exploitive and abusive behavior towards young women of color," tweeted the National Organization for Women. "It's time we mute this sexual predator."
Others in the music industry sided with the women.
In calling for an investigation into R. Kelly, music artists were joined by celebrities and industry leaders of all stripes.
Award-winning director Ava DuVernay showed her support for #MuteRKelly and called on his profiters to cut ties with the artist.
Shannon Coulter, the founder of the #GrabYourWallet movement, also expressed her support and called out the music industry's continued support of Kelly. "Why are you still doing business with R Kelly?" Coulter asked, tagging Ticketmaster, Spotify, and RCA Records, Kelly's record label.
Already, the hashtag seems to be successful. Vibe reports that one radio show has already committed to boycotting Kelly's music. Burke, on Tom Joyner's show, said the movement needed his show and others to support them by refusing to play his songs on air. "OK, you got it. I'll do that right now," Joyner responded, per the magazine. "I won't play anymore R. Kelly music."
Kelly's lawyer and his publicist, according to Vibe, also ended their relationships with the artist effective April 16, prior to the Time's Up statement. The Chicago Tribune reported on April 27 that Kelly was also taken off the lineup for an upcoming festival at the University of Illinois at Chicago, following protests.