Lifetime’s docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, drew mass media attention this past week after premiering three nights in a row. The series is painful to watch, as it details the disturbing acts of R. Kelly’s past and the many lives that have been destroyed as a result. Kelly has been accused of assaulting young girls, knowingly transmitting sexual diseases, and manipulating girls and young women for years. The docuseries exposes the rapper for who he really is in an attempt to bring closure to his survivors and allow the world to get an accurate depiction of one of the most successful R&B singers of the generation, according to the Grapevine.
However, what producers of Surviving R. Kelly likely didn’t expect to see in wake of the docuseries was a surge in Kelly’s sales and streams. Despite his ruined reputation, many fans continue to support him by streaming his music. The reaction is unsettling to many, including Jada Pinkett Smith.
“How is it that R Kelly’s music sales have spiked (substantially) since the release of the docuseries Surviving R Kelly. I’m having a really difficult time understanding why, but I think it’s important that I understand why… even if it’s something I don’t agree with,” she told Instagram followers when questioned what she thought about Kelly’s spike in sales. She said that she hopes that the reason behind the spike is not that “black girls don’t matter,” but doesn’t understand why fans continue to stand by Kelly after knowing the truth.
Smith has been a vocal advocate for women, and black women in particular, encouraging more open discussion about sexual assault. She is expected to discuss the R. Kelly situation in further detail on the next episode of her show, Red Table Talk, on Wednesday.
Even with his name under fire in the media, Kelly continues to make music and reach out to his fans through social media. He has talked little of his recent scandal aside from a 19-minute song he released in July entitled “I Admit.” Released on Soundcloud, the song address the accusations he’s received and includes a plethora of confessions from his past. It was widely criticized for seeming that the artist was defending his name more than he was apologizing for his hurtful actions. He also denounced claims that he ever engaged in sexual activity with girls who were underage. The song was the first Kelly released since his popular holiday album, 12 Nights of Christmas, in 2016.