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John Legend to R. Kelly: “Time’s up”

Legend is the only major music star to speak out against R. Kelly in a new doc.

Fred Segal Sunset Hosts John Legend for ‘A Legendary Shopping Night’ in the Ralph Lauren pop-up space
John Legend at a Ralph Lauren popup store in December 2018.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Fred Segal
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

On Thursday night, Lifetime premiered its new docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, a deep dive into the past 25 years’ worth of accusations of sexual abuse against R. Kelly. The series offers accounts from multiple accusers and members of Kelly’s inner circle — but only one major music star joins in to speak out against Kelly: John Legend.

Executive producer dream hampton says she reached out to multiple stars when she was making the series, to no avail. “I asked Jay-Z, I asked Mary J. Blige, I asked Lil Kim, Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle…” she told the website Shadow and Act. “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. It’s that turning away that has allowed this to go on.”

Hampton says that Legend, who has previously tweeted his support for the #MuteRKelly movement, “was the only one” of the major music stars she approached who agreed to participate in the series. (Chance the Rapper also appears, to express regret over his decision to work with Kelly.)

“Time’s up for R. Kelly,” Legend says in Surviving R. Kelly, adding that the star “has brought so much pain to so many people.”

On Twitter, Legend said that the decision to appear in the series “didn’t feel risky at all,” writing, “I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”

Kelly has declined to comment on the allegations made against him in Surviving R. Kelly, but his lawyer has threatened to sue Lifetime over the series. You can read a full list of all of the allegations made against Kelly on Vox.

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