The full weight of the #MeToo movement fell upon the music industry last night — right on R. Kelly’s deserving head. The world tuned in as Lifetime aired the first installment of a three-part documentary series on women who have survived sexual, emotional, and physical abuse from Robert “R.Kelly” Kelly. The series, aptly titled Surviving R. Kelly, was produced by legendary entertainment journalist Dream Hampton, with the help of countless victims who bravely came forth to tell their stories. Each part will cover the truth behind the entertainer’s decades-long reign of abuse towards young and underage women.
The explosive first-part sent Twitter into a firestorm last night, as #SurvivingRKelly became the #1 trending topic. As stated by former R.Kelly collaborator, Sparkle, “Robert is a master manipulator, [and] everybody knows it now.”
Read on to learn some of the most surprising elements of the first part of the documentary. The remaining episodes will air on Lifetime Friday and Saturday nights at 9p ET.
Everyone Around R.Kelly Was Complicit
Twitter was ablaze throughout the airing of the documentary, and one of the first recurring themes that viewers found immediately concerning was the alarming volume of people who were complicit in R.Kelly’s illegal behavior for many years. Everyone including his producers, managers, tour managers, mentors, siblings, and collaborators — all suspected and witnessed the behavior but few spoke out. Those who participated in the documentary instead suggested they were “appalled” by unusual interactions he would have with young women.
Most notably, many of the celebrities he’s most memorably worked with opted out of participating in the documentary.
"…It's not because they support him, it's because it's so messy and muddy. It's that turning away that has allowed this to go on." #survivingrkelly
— niki. (@nikimcgloster) January 3, 2019
Aaliyah Was One of His Earliest Victims
Just some food for thought: Aaliyah was the same age that Kylie Jenner was when she was first hanging around Tyga.
— kathy iandoli (@kath3000) January 4, 2019
While many people remember the saga of R.Kelly and Aaliyah vaguely, the documentary revealed harrowing details of the relationship between the two artists. The two met when he was 24 and she was just 12, and within the first hour of the documentary, it became clear that he was having a sexual relationship with her by the time she was 15.
For most of the public, the inappropriate nature of their relationship became clear once media began circulating a marriage license between the two (which was forged and inflated Aaliyah’s true age)
One prominent journalist, Danyel Smith, spoke out last night about VIBE’s reporting on his suspicious relationship with her.
whole VIBE team reported it. VIBE broke / published the marriage certificate. https://t.co/aiCCbIUHWR
— Danyel Smith (@danamo) January 4, 2019
Most alarmingly, though, the documentary reveals that Aaliyah had become pregnant before she wed R.Kelly and was “worried and scared” during the ceremony. Still, no adult present at the wedding questioned the situation or came to her rescue.
Ultimately, Aaliyah’s parents found out and the marriage was annulled. According to the documentary, Kelly paid them a whopping sum of $100 to remain silent about the issue. Today, her family has spoken out to refute claims that she ever had a sexual relationship with the assaulter.
R. Kelly Suffered Years of Childhood Sexual Abuse
In an August 2012 interview with Tavis Smiley, R. Kelly revealed that he had been sexually assaulted as a child when he was 7-years-old and it continued until he was around 14.
While he would not reveal who in his family assaulted him, he did confess that “I was molested from seven on until maybe 13, 14, something like that by people in my family.”
“Sexually it woke up my hormones a lot earlier than they were supposed to be awakened,” he went on.
His brother later confessed that he was also a victim of sexual assault by a family member and that when he shared the news with his older brother, R. Kelly, he “didn’t really respond to it.”
“If [my brother] had believed me, then I would’ve taken it to an adult,” he explained.
Studies suggest the majority of boys who are victims do not go on to commit sexual assault, however, there have been various arguments made that boys who are victims of molestation are more likely than girls to become predators — particularly when there are “factors that may be associated with a boy’s transition from victim to the offender.” One of the leading factors is reported to be power — a resource that ultimately became available to Kelly in abundance.
There Were Endless Signs
Several times throughout the documentary it is noted that R.Kelly has long called himself, and has been known as, “the Pied Piper” of music.
“His nickname is not Pied Piper for nothing,” suggested one of Kelly’s associates. Kelly gave himself the moniker based on the legendary character from fairy tales, known for wooing children with his flute. At one point in the documentary, one of Kelly’s close allies admits that he “literally picked a metaphor for seducing young children with music.”
The documentary also points out a discography filled with song titles and lyrics that alluded to his behavior and deviant interests, suggesting that his music allowed him to be a predator “hiding in plain sight.” From “Sex Me,” to “It Seems Like Your Ready,” to “Age Ain’t Nuthin But A Number” (written by Kelly for Aaliyah) many of his songs and lyrics alluded to luring young women to older men.
His Victims Were Always Brown & Black Girls
Kelly’s behavior has carried on for decades, as a result of limited action from those close to him, and as a result of a greater society and culture that chose to turn a blind eye to his behavior for too long. One of his victims made it clear during the documentary that while people knew of R.Kelly’s habits (which included scouting local high schools for girls), “no one cared because we were black.”
Thus far, all of the victims who have come forward are Black and Latina, including a young Latina who he assaulted, impregnated, and then wrote a song for — that song turned out to be the hit, “You Are Not Alone,” performed by Michael Jackson. Many of the girls suggested that it was their desire to gain access to fame and career success that enabled them to become victims.
Sparkle knew about R Kelly abusing young girls AND his wife, but still introduced her 12 year old niece to him. Because she believed he could make his niece a star. It is Sparkle's niece that is on the infamous tape. She was 14. #SurvivingRKelly
— April (@ReignOfApril) January 4, 2019
“It’s easier for a perpetrator to abuse when that victim doesn’t have resources,” one suggested.