All you need to know about R-Kelly: The “Pied Piper of R&B”

R-Kelly could be considered one of the kings of R&B, or as others refer to him as “The Pied Piper.” By definition, a “Pied piper” is a man that lures children away with his music, which essentially is a nickname fitting for Kelly. If you were on social media during the first week of January, you saw some variation of people cancelling R-Kelly; unless you were under a rock. Don’t worry though, your favorite writers at HerCampus are here to spill all of the tea!

During the beginning of January, Lifetime aired a six-part series, exposing R&B singer R-Kelly for over 25 years of alleged sexual abuse. Several women who say were victims of the abuse Kelly committed while they were either young and/or underage. The survivors stories are told from their side of the story in their own words, accompanied by photographs from around the same time that Kelly’s alleged crimes happened. R-Kelly has persistently denied these charges for over 10 years, however, for the first time in the 52 year-old’s career, a small piece of justice might be served and his career might finally be over.


Jim DeRogatis, a former music critic turned journalist who had been covering R-Kelly’s music for 17 years, published an exposè article for BuzzFeed, alleging that for years, Kelly has been holding women hostage as part of a “Sex Cult.” This piece was published 16 years following the first piece DeRogatis wrote about Kelly performing vulgar sexual acts with a child on tape. Following the release of the sex tape and the R&B singer’s trial, Kelly was acquitted due to the fact that the jury failed to identify the girl in the tape. His acquittal made his alleged lawlessness to suppress in the memory of the public.


When DeRogatis released another report in 2017, producers Jesse Daniels and Tamara Simmons from Kreativ Inc. and Bunim Murray used this momentum to study R-Kelly’s sexual history more in depth. The producers began searching for survivors who were willing to collaborate for the documentary that we know now to be “Surviving R-Kelly,” which aired on Lifetime, who according to “Felt the film aligned with its brand


Originally, Lifetime wanted the film to air as a 90-minute one night documentary, however the survivor’s associated with Kelly went from 3 to 50, leaving the filmmakers with 6 hours of footage. “The six-part series just made sense,” also said. Since the premiere, according to Lifetime, over 24 million people tuned in to watch the docuseries, with a majority of viewers being African-American.


Since the release of Surviving R. Kelly, at least 3 states are reported to be building criminal cases against the R&B singer. Artists such as Chance the Rapper, John Legend and Lady Gaga have spoken up to admit that they were wrong for working with Kelly while still knowing about his abusive behavior. They have fessed up their wrongdoings, and scrubbed their collaborations with the singer from their streaming platforms. According to Essence, Sony and RCA records have dropped R-Kelly from their labels due to the increase in protests. While Lifetime has yet to make a decision on whether or not to do a follow up series, the producers have every intention on monitoring how the conversations continue to unravel.