Reports: R. Kelly quietly dropped by RCA/Sony and Universal Music Publishing
The growing backlash against R. Kelly became too hot for his record company and publisher.
On the weekend, there were reports that both his label RCA/Sony and publisher Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) had parted ways with him.
Neither company has made an official statement but the news was leaked by executives.
RCA/Sony is said to have made the move last Friday (January 18) two days after a massive #MuteRKelly protest rally was held outside Sony’s New York offices on Wednesday.
It was organised by the Ultraviolet and Color of Change associations, with members holding up placards proclaiming
“RCA Drop Kelly!” and “Black Girls Matter.”
UMPG seems to have in fact dropped R. Kelly last year, probably as early as last northern spring, according to some of its executives under conditions of anonymity.
With album sales of 30 million, R. Kelly was a major money-spinner for both companies.
Both had acquired him indirectly – RCA/Sony after it bought out Jive Records with whom the footballer-turned-triple Grammy-winning singer had his first hits in the early ‘90s, and UMPG when it bought Zomba Publishing as part of its 2007 acquisition of BMG Music Publishing.
In 2012 when R. Kelly extended his Sony relationship, he signed with RCA.
Kelly has long denied accusations that first surfaced in 2000 of his predilection for under-aged girls.
He has never been convicted of sexual crimes and was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008.
But the African American community has maintained that he escaped legal action because of his high profile and because his victims were black.
That changed after claims and accusations of severe sexual misconduct in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly.
The RCA/Sony move was hailed on Friday by Color of Change as a victory “because African-American female voices are finally heard.”
Its director Arisha Hatch of Color of Change stated: “This victory belongs to the survivors of his abuse — their brave testimonies played a critical role in pushing RCA to drop R. Kelly.”
This now puts great pressure on urban radio to dump R. Kelly music.
Two radio stations in Dallas have reportedly done so, with #MuteRKelly putting the heat on other radio, streaming services, retailers, promoters and venues.
On Friday, a former manager of the singer, Henry James Mason, handed himself to Atlanta authorities for allegedly threatening the family of Joycelyn Savage.
Savage is apparently a “R. Kelly sex slave” who appeared on Surviving R. Kelly.