R. Kelly struck back at the Time’s Up campaign on Monday, saying the group’s efforts are “unjust and off-target” after it called for an investigation into the multiple allegations against the singer of abusing women.
The 51-year-old singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, has faced accusations of sexual abuse for years, including allegations that he was involved in sex slavery and sexual abuse of minors. Time’s Up, an initiative started by women in Hollywood to fight sexual abuse and exploitation, on Monday called for an investigation into the allegations against Kelly and launched a social media campaign called #MuteRKelly.
In a statement, a representative for the singer expressed support for the Time’s Up movement while arguing that the accusations against Kelly are unwarranted.
“R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target,” the statement reads. “We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts.”
Kelly’s representative also said it would ultimately “become clear” that the singer is the target of a “greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him.”
“R. Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never ― and will never ― be silenced,” the statement said. “Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it.”
Representatives for Kelly did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The #MuteRKelly campaign has been promoted on Twitter by prominent black women in the Time’s Up movement, including television showrunner Shonda Rhimes, director Ava DuVernay and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke.
Some have pointed out that Kelly’s alleged victims are themselves women of color, which seemingly undercuts his argument that he’s being targeted because he is a black man. The statement released by Time’s Up on Monday came from the group’s Women of Color committee, who wrote that they hope to “shine a bright light on our WOC sisters in need.”
“Y’all. This has been a long, hard, fought journey that SO MANY sisters have been on for more than a decade,” Burke wrote Monday on Twitter. “This man is a predator and 100% of his victims have been Black and Brown girls. At times it felt like screaming into a well, but thank God for this reckoning coming.”
On Sunday, Kelly posted a video to his Twitter account where he blamed “rumors” for the recent cancellation of a show he’d been slated to give at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The singer also hinted at possible legal action for the incident.
“I don’t know why they canceled the show,” Kelly said in the video. “I’ve never heard of a show being canceled because of rumors, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
Kelly is still scheduled to perform at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina on May 11.