Amid reports that multiple artists are seeking to following Lady Gaga by removing their collaborations with R. Kelly from streaming services, Kelly’s collaborations with Celine Dion (“I’m Your Angel,” 1998) and Chance the Rapper “Somewhere in Paradise,” 2015) appear to be in the process of being removed. While Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women over the past two decades, the recent Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” presents a stark and disturbing account of his alleged behavior that has brought public disapproval of the singer to a new height.
At press time, “I’m Your Angel” had been removed from YouTube but not streaming services, and “Somewhere in Paradise” removed from streaming services but not YouTube — although the process is not instant. Last week, approximately 12 hours elapsed between Gaga’s announcement that she intended to remove “Do What U Want,” her 2013 collaboration with Kelly, from streaming services and the iTunes store, and its actual removal. (A performance of the song from the American Music Awards that year remains on YouTube; that clip is own by ABC, which broadcast the show, rather than Gaga’s label, Interscope Records.)
In “Surviving R. Kelly,” Chance the Rapper told Cassius reporter Jamilah Lemiux that “Making a song with R. Kelly was a mistake. At the time, it wasn’t even present in my mind that people could feel any type of way about his presence on a track of mine. I think for a long time I was only able to understand R. Kelly’s situation and presence in the world when it comes down to his trial and his accusations and his accusers as a victim. I don’t know if that’s because I’m from Chicago [as is Kelly] or because he made great music or because he is a black man.”
While Kelly has collaborated with a huge number of major recording artists — among them Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Chris Brown, Mariah Carey and many others — the lead artist is a determining factor in whether or not these songs can be removed, i.e., both Dion’s and Chance the Rapper’s songs are credited to them with a feature from Kelly (even though he also wrote and produced “I’m Your Angel”).
A Ciara rep tells Variety that the singer has also taken steps with Sony Music to see about having her collaborations with Kelly, which include 2004’s “Next to You” and 2006’s “Promise,” to be removed.
Reps for Dion, Chance, Apple and Spotify either had no comment or did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.