Chance the Rapper worked with R. Kelly on the 2015 track “Somewhere in Paradise,” but he no longer stands by that collaboration.
The Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly—which, among other things, focuses on the many women who have come forward to accuse Kelly of sexually abusing them when they were minors—aired a portion of an interview Chance did with culture critic Jamilah Lemieux in May. “Making a song with R. Kelly was a mistake,” he told Lemieux. “At the time, it wasn’t even present in my mind that people could feel any type of way about his presence on a track of mine.”
Chance said he previously considered Kelly a victim, and not his accusers (Kelly was also arrested, though later acquitted, on child pornography charges in 2002, and infamously married late musician Aaliyah when she was only 15.) Per Rolling Stone:
We’re programmed to really be hypersensitive to black male oppression. But black women are exponentially [a] higher oppressed and violated group of people just in comparison to the whole world. Maybe I didn’t care because I didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were black women.
Initially, Surviving R. Kelly aired only a portion of Chance’s interview, leaving out a line where Chance explained that black men accused of sexual assault are usually accused by “light-skinned women or white women. That’s when it’s a big story.” Chance clarified his statements on Twitter on Sunday and linked to the full interview, though he noted that even that clarification doesn’t change the fact that R. Kelly’s accusers were dismissed:
Update (10:39 p.m.): According to TMZ, R. Kelly didn’t watch Surviving R. Kelly, which aired from January 3-5. Sources told the site that the singer is “disgusted” by the series’ allegations against him, and claims interviewees who detailed the abuse allegations on camera did so as a personal and professional “vendetta” against him.