John Legend was the only musician who agreed to be interviewed for the documentary series Surviving R. Kelly. What drew Legend to the series, where fellow artists like Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, and Questlove declined, was that he wanted to take the necessary steps to condemn Kelly’s actions.
“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” he wrote on Twitter. “I believe these women and don’t give a f*ck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”
John Legend Called R. Kelly ‘A Serial Child Rapist’ On Twitter After Filming His Interview
This is not the first time that Legend has spoken out against R. Kelly. In April 2018, the singer shared his support of the #MuteRKelly movement when he retweeted an open letter that called on the music industry to cut ties with Kelly. “I stand with the women of #timesup #muterkelly,” he wrote.
Legend also singled out Dream Hampton, the executive producer of Surviving R. Kelly, for her “necessary work” in bringing Kelly’s sordid past to light. “These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard,” he wrote in a separate tweet. “I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice.”
Legend Was the Only Musician to Appear In the Doc After Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z , Erykah Badu & Countless Others Turned It Down
Hampton has spoken at length about the difficult of getting musicians to appear in the series. “John Legend was the only one,” Hampton told Shadow and Act. “I asked Jay-Z, I asked Mary J. Blige, I asked Lil Kim, Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle… But they all said no. I mean, most people just don’t want to touch it. I remember Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson was like, ‘I would do anything for you but I can’t do this.'”
It’s not because they support him, it’s because it’s so messy and muddy,” Hampton explained. “It’s that turning away that has allowed this to go on. That makes John Legend even more of a hero for me.”
Executive Producer Dream Hampton Says That Legend Is a ‘Hero’ for Speaking Out
Hampton also spoke about the responsibility that people like her and Legend have to the future generation. “R. Kelly is someone that we, my generation, should have dealt with a long time ago,” she admitted. “I remember when Ferguson was happening and this young protester tweeted out to me or someone from Generation X, and they were like, ‘Why didn’t y’all stop this?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s not how it works.’ It’s not like there weren’t attempts.”
“At one point in the film, someone asked, ‘Where was the outrage [at the height of his fame, in the ’90s]?’ and that’s just because a lot of this [outrage] was pre-digital, but it did exist,” she added. “We did push back in the moment, but we didn’t organize to shut him down, so there was this feeling of responsibility.”