With the six-episode docuseries Surviving R. Kelly premiering on Lifetime tonight, series producer Dream Hampton told Shadow And Act in an interview that she is “at war with R. Kelly,” the Chicago singer whose string of ’90s hits was tainted by accusations of child sex, domestic abuse, and most recently, allegations of keeping women against their will in a “sex cult.” While the series will cover the myriad scandals against R. Kelly through interviews with his alleged victims, Hampton said she had a much more difficult time getting R. Kelly’s fellow stars to talk about the troubled singer — except one.
“I asked Jay-Z, I asked Mary J. Blige, I asked Lil Kim, Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle… I mean, most people just don’t want to touch it,” she said. “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.”
The star she says was willing to go on camera to share an opinion on R. Kelly’s murky reputation was John Legend: “John Legend was the only one.” Hampton offered up an explanation for the chilly attitudes toward calling out the singer in general public as well, saying, “In the docuseries, [journalist and filmmaker] Nelson George talks about why it’s so difficult for us to turn away from someone like R. Kelly because we don’t necessarily associate the songs with him, we associate them with things in our life. So it’s not when we hear ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ we’re thinking about, him, we’re thinking about our niece’s 8th-grade graduation, or hear ‘Step In The Name Of Love,’ it’s our cousin’s wedding.”
Meanwhile, TMZ reports that R. Kelly has threatened to sue Lifetime.
Surviving R. Kelly airs tonight on Lifetime.