Community activists gathered Monday in Inglewood, Calif. to raise their voices against R&B singer R. Kelly and his music.
Project Islamic Hope Director Najee Ali and Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson held a news conference outside Los Angeles radio station 102.3 KJLH to call on iHeartRadio and Radio One to stop playing Kelly’s music.
The activists said they were told by KJLH, which is owned by Stevie Wonder, that the station has “long since” stopped playing Kelly songs after sexual misconduct allegations emerged against the Bump N’ Grind singer.
“We are here to commend Stevie Wonder, owner of the station, and station management for banning R. Kelly’s music on the airwaves,” said Ali in a news conference that streamed on Facebook. “We also are calling on iHeartRadio and Radio One to follow suit. We believe that R. Kelly’s music should be banned on R&B radio stations across urban and black America.”
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Ali went on to call R. Kelly a “serial child molester.”
“He’s a pedophile and no radio station should be playing his music,” Ali said, adding that radio stations should not be “helping him put money in his pockets to continue preying on young back girls.”
The activists delivered a letter to KJLH management for “doing the right thing.”
Ali also said they are “in the organizing stages” of planning protests and boycotts of radio stations that continue to play Kelly’s music.
The gathering followed the broadcast of Lifetime’s six-part Surviving R. Kelly docuseries, which premiered on Jan. 3.
The docuseries addressed claims that the R&B singer had sex with countless underage girls, and alleged that he had a history of picking up teenagers at a high school in Chicago and at shopping malls during his tour stops.
Kelly has denied the claims against him, and was found not guilty of multiple counts of possession of child pornography following the release of his infamous sex tape with a girl said to be 14-years-old.
Despite years of allegations against the chart-topping singer and producer, and a #MuteRKelly movement against him, some radio stations have continued to play his music.
“You have many radio stations that have enabled R. Kelly by buying his product. Essentially what you are doing is saying yes to sexual molestation, to sexual perversion, to sexual pandering,” Hutchinson said Monday.
Back in May, Spotify announced it would stop including music by R. Kelly on its curated playlists. Days later, Apple Music and Pandora followed suit. The decisions followed a story by BuzzFeed News alleging that Kelly was holding women in homes in Chicago and Atlanta against their will in a sex “cult.”
But after Surviving R. Kelly debuted, Spotify told The Blast that streams of the performer’s music jumped 16 percent.
“Since Surviving R. Kelly came out, the documentary on him, he’s even bigger,” said Hutchinson. “Reports came out of Spotify that now he’s made even millions more as a result of that.”
Hutchinson said the activists are not trying to censor R. Kelly.
“No one is telling R. Kelly he can’t sing, he can’t play, he can’t record, he can’t do any of that,” Hutchinson explained. “It’s just simply, people have to understand sexual predators, sexual molestation, underage girls, sexual perversion, particularly in this era, any era is a serious issue.”
“Our slogan is ‘you don’t profiteer off of sexual predatorship,’” Hutchinson stated.
Surviving R. Kelly premiered Thursday, and continued Friday and Saturday nights. The docuseries included interviews with Wendy Williams, John Legend, Chance the Rapper, and numerous women who said they were abused by R. Kelly, including his ex-wife Andrea Kelly.
The singer’s two brothers were also interviewed, and his former tour manager and personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, admitted to helping the singer seek out girls, some of them underage, in local malls.
“We would go to the mall in every city,” Smith stated.
Smith also said he was there when a then-27-year-old R. Kelly secretly married 15-year-old Aaliyah.
“I had papers forged for them,” he said, referring to documents that allowed Aaliyah to claim she was 18 years old.
According to a press release from Lifetime, the premiere of Surviving R. Kelly brought in 1.9 million total viewers, marking the cable network’s best performance in more than two years. The docuseries also dominated social media, and ranked as the #1 most social primetime program across broadcast and cable for Jan. 3, excluding sports.