Lady Gaga Apologizes for Working With R. Kelly—And Pulls Their Song From iTunes Lady Gaga is now one of the biggest names in music to apologize for collaborating with R. Kelly. In the wake of Surviving R. Kelly (the Lifetime documentary series that features many women who claim that the singer abused them) and the allegations of the last few years, one of the biggest revelations is that a staggering amount of people in Kelly’s circle and in the industry at large knew of various stories circulating about him but decided to stay quiet. Gaga’s announcement—in the middle of her A Star Is Born awards-season press circuit—and especially her decision to pull their 2013 song, “Do What U Want (With My Body),” marks a sea change.
Dream Hampton, executive producer of Surviving R. Kelly, revealed last week that several R&B and hip-hop heavyweights declined to be interviewed for the documentary, including Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Dave Chappelle, Questlove, Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim—and Lady Gaga. (Questlove later tweeted that he refused to participate because he had been asked to discuss Kelly’s “genius”; Hampton refuted that claim on Twitter.) In Gaga’s statement, released via Twitter on Thursday, she said, “I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously,” and furthered that the allegations against Kelly were “absolutely horrifying and indefensible.” The collaboration with Kelly had been considered controversial at the time—especially when it was leaked that Gaga and Kelly had made a provocative music video with accused abuser Terry Richardson that they decided not to release. Gaga said today that she “made both the song and video at a dark time in my life,” adding that “my intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life. . . . I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time. If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self I’d tell her to go through the therapy I have since then, so that I could understand the confused post-traumatic state that I was in—or if therapy was not available to me or anyone in my situation—to seek help, and speak as openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through. . . . I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young and for not speaking out sooner.”
In addition, Gaga announced that she would be pulling the song from iTunes and that she would not work with Kelly again, a powerful move in a week where streaming of Kelly’s catalogue has actually increased after the Lifetime documentary premiered. Other major industry figures have also begun to speak out, including Meek Mill, Chance the Rapper, and Ne-Yo. Kelly is now reportedly under investigation by the Fulton County district attorney’s office in Georgia.