'Surviving R. Kelly' producer wants people to stop streaming his music following conviction

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One of the producers behind “Surviving R. Kelly” has spoken out about the disgraced R&B singer’s sex trafficking conviction.

R. Kelly was found guilty on all nine counts in his racketeering and sex trafficking case on Monday. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York confirmed the 54-year-old was found guilty on “all counts” on Twitter.

Kelly’s criminal charges were covered in the docuseries and it’s been credited for making his case stand out amid the #MeToo era. Executive producer Dream Hampton reflected on the impact the series had on Kelly’s fate in an interview with Gayle King on CBS Mornings on Tuesday. Unlike King, whose televised 2019 interview with Kelly went viral for his on-air dramatics toward the host, Hampton reminded viewers documentarians reached out multiple times to Kelly, who denied to contribute to the film.

“We, of course, couldn’t get him for our cameras although we invited him several times. I thought about your interview because, I’m still thinking about Joy Savage, who of course, defended him during your interview and who still hasn’t returned to her mother. So I think about the damage he’s done over the past three decades and how long it’s going to take these victims.”

Hampton added that producers talked to “dozens of victims” in preparation for “Surviving R. Kelly.” Despite the conviction, she highlighted that there’s still a long road for his victims to recover from the trauma they experienced.

“It had been 20-25 years since they were teenagers and had been preyed upon by R. Kelly. They had children and they had husbands and they didn’t want to come on camera  to talk about that painful trauma,” Hampton said of many who were interviewed. Although this verdict is a step in that direction, I think about the restitution that’s necessary, the financial restitution. Therapy is not free. The kind of work that these women are going to have to do to get their lives back, it’s going to take a long time.”

She also discussed what the conviction means for survivors, a majority who were women of color.

“I want to believe that this means that black women survivors will be heard. But I don’t want it to be dependent on a piece of media going viral. I think ‘On the Record’ [about] Russel Simmons didn’t get the same reception that ours did. I think about all of the stories of every day black girls in neighborhoods like the ones that I grew up in Detroit who don’t have a predator, who don’t have an abuser that was famous or rich and I wonder about the culture that’s still refuses to stop playing his music to support him.”

According to reports, Kelly’s music saw a spike following the release of “Surviving R. Kelly” and during his trial. Hampton implied this doesn’t sit well with her.

R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on September 17, 2019. 
(Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“It tells me that we have a long way to go. I think that when the two women who began the #MuteRKelly movement started it they hoped to deny him basically resources to run a criminal enterprise that he was just convicted of in New York … There was an urgent need to not separate the art from the artist, to deny him the resources to continue this criminal enterprise.

“At this point people will make their own decisions about this long question around the art and the artist. I have made my decision. I’m no longer listening to R. Kelly and I grew up listening to him. He’s made some incredible music but I can’t separate his art from his predation.”

Hampton concluded by commending the survivors who participated in the documentary.

“They’re just so brave. I am just hoping that they are on their journey towards healing,” she said.

Kelly faces the possibility of decades in prison for crimes including violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law that prohibits taking anyone across state lines “for any immoral purpose.” 

However, it’ll be months before the R&B superstar, known for his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” will be sentenced. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 4.

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