It doesn’t look like RCA/Sony wants to drop controversial R&B artist R. Kelly, who transition from Jive Records during the merger and has been one of the label’s most prominent artist for decades.
According to TMZ, the label revealed no plans to drop Kelly amid his sex abuse scandal, but they plan to put a hold on the release of new music until things have been resolved. Sources familiar with Kelly’s contract with RCA/Sony claim that the label will not produce any of his new music and will not fund any projects.
R. Kelly has witnessed immense backlash since the airing of Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ docuseries. The state of Georgia has opened a criminal investigation into accusations made by several women. and the state of Illinois may do the same.
Kelly, who recently released the new single, “I Admit,” is not happy with his label’s choice to shelve his music. He’s been in the studio working on new music to fulfill his obligations to RCA. He reportedly has two albums left in his contract and is upset that RCA/Sony won’t fund his projects.
The situation puts RCA in a tough position. If the label releases any music from Kelly, it could be a PR disaster, especially in the wake of the #MuteRKelly movement. On the other hand, if they choose not to release Kelly’s music, especially when he hasn’t been formally charged with a crime, he could sue and possibly win. It’s unclear if there’s a “morals clause” in R. Kelly’s contract, which would allow the label to take the actions it deems fit, but if now, they could be in for a fight.
There’s also the possibility that they will mutually agree to end their relationship. R. Kelly is reportedly “very unhappy,” and if RCA doesn’t support him, he wants out of his deal.
With or without a record deal, R. Kelly will still run into many roadblocks. Many artists are turning down collaborations, and streaming and radio stations are choosing not to play his music.
In the wake of “Surviving R. Kelly,” many artists have spoken out against Kelly including John Legend, Ne-Yo, Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill, Future, and Lady Gaga, who removed their 2013 collaboration “Do What U Want (With My Body)” from streaming services. Celine Dion is also in the process of pulling their 1998 hit “I Am Your Angel” from digital platforms.