R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, arrest warrant issued

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R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, arrest warrant issuedR Kelly

It seems after decades of alleged abuse, R. Kelly’s day of reckoning may finally be here. On Friday, February 22, the disgraced R&B singer was formally charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, involving four victims, three of which were minors between the ages of 13 and 16. A judge in Cook County, Illinois issued a no-bail warrant for Kelly’s arrest, and the embattled singer’s first court appearance is reportedly scheduled for March 8—International Women’s Day.

Each count is a class 2 felony and carries a sentence of between 3 to 7 years in prison if found guilty. The situation has become one of the year’s most gripping news stories, and even since the Surviving R. Kelly documentary series aired, Kelly’s history of criminality seemingly continues to unfold. On February 21, a new accuser came forward with allegations against Kelly. Even more shockingly however, is that just in just the last week, a damning new video tape was obtained by Michael Avenatti, who some might recognize as Stormy Daniels’ legal representative. The newly unearthed video, which was turned over to authorities, reportedly depicts Kelly engaging in sexual activity with a minor.

In recent weeks, various law enforcement agencies have piled on to the newly rehashed investigation into Kelly’s not-so-secret criminal behavior, including homeland security, the IRS, and the FBI. Now, it seems the embattled R&B superstar’s time might finally be up.

Skrillex tells TMZ that he doesn’t think JAY-Z needs to pull his collaborations with R. Kelly from streaming platforms [Watch]

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Skrillex tells TMZ that he doesn’t think JAY-Z needs to pull his collaborations with R. Kelly from streaming platforms [Watch]AP R Kelly

As a myriad of artists including Chance the Rapper, Lady Gaga, and Celine Dion, pull their productions with R. Kelly from streaming platforms in response to sexual misconduct allegations made against the R&B crooner, Skrillex doesn’t think that JAY-Z needs to follow suit. “You know, I don’t think he needs to do so,” Skrillex told TMZ cameramen when asked if he felt that JAY-Z should remove his songs with R. Kelly from streaming services. JAY-Z and R. Kelly co-released “Best of Both Worlds” in 2002, and “Unfinished Business” in 2004. “It’s hard,” Skrillex added, “It’s like, look: there’s a word. It’s called ‘occhiolism.’ It’s the awareness of the smallness of your own perspective. If JAY-Z wants to keep [the] music because it’s music he made a long time ago, it’s part of the archives, it’s part of history, that doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. That doesn’t mean he supports bad people.”

Skrillex, however, did vocalize his support of Sony‘s decision to nullify R. Kelly’s record dealer with the Sony owned imprint, RCA Records. “I think everyone in their own sort of private world should make their own choices, but I support that,” Skrillex said.  Sony has yet to release an official statement regarding R. Kelly’s departure from RCA, which would provide insight on the nature of R. Kelly’s divorce from the label, specifically, whether Sony and R. Kelly mutually agreed to void the vocalist’s deal.

R. Kelly remains at the center of sexual misconduct speculation following the release of Lifetime’s six-part docuseries, Surviving R. KellySurviving R. Kelly chronicles R. Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse of several women who were reportedly underage at the time of their sexual encounters with the artist. R. Kelly has since denied all such allegations of sexual misconduct.

Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/AP

H/T: Complex

Spotify rescinds hateful conduct policy in wake of censorship controversy

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Spotify has formally halted its hate content and hateful conduct policy, just weeks after the streaming giant ceased promotion of R. Kelly and XXXTentacion‘s music following sexual misconduct and domestic abuse allegations made against both artists. Although R. Kelly’s music continued to perform well in spite of its removal from all Spotify branded algorithmic and curated playlists, the policy that deemed both R. Kelly and XXXtentacion to be in conduct related violation proved to be controversial among many who accused Spotify of practicing censorship through the policy. Kendrick Lamar notably threatened to pull his music from the platform if Spotify continued to enforce the policy.

Spotify formally announced the abrogation of the policy in a full statement published on June 1. “Spotify recently shared a new policy around hate content and conduct,” the notice begins, “And while we believe out intentions were good, the language was too vague, we created confusion and concern, and didn’t spend enough time getting input from our own team and key partners before sharing new guidelines.”

Spotify discerns between the two branches of the double pronged policy, noting that the first, “hateful conduct,” was “…related to promotional decisions in the rare cases of the most extreme artist controversies.” Spotify additionally specifies the second part of the policy, “hate content,” to be “hate speech…whose principal purpose is to incite hatred or violence against people because of their race, religion, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” Spotify is adamant that “hate speech” is that which is “not to be mistaken with “offensive, explicit, or vulgar content.” While Spotify will continue to remove material classified as “hate content,” it will no longer “play judge and jury.”

“Across all genres, our role is not to regulate artists,” Spotify’s statement continues, “Therefore, we are moving away from implementing a policy around artist conduct.” Spotify did not expressly state whether R. Kelly and XXXTentacion’s music will regain accessibility in algorithmic playlist creation on the platform, and if so, when that reversal will occur, but the reversion will assumedly occur, given Spotify’s renunciation of the policy.

H/T: BBC News

Did Kendrick Lamar strong arm Spotify into walking back its artist conduct policy?

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Spotify can’t seem to stay out of the headlines as of late. When the music streaming service updated its behavioral policies and made the editorial decision to remove R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from it’s “algorithmic playlists,” due to the artists’ histories of sexual assault allegations, many voices sprang forth in response to the controversial move.

First, the US-based women’s advocacy group, UltraViolet, came forth to urge Spotify to hold other artists accused of sexual assault and/or gender-based violence accountable as well. They named Chris BrownRed Hot Chili PeppersNelly, and Eminem in their open letter to the music streaming giant. Spotify responded in a statement,

“We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions—what we choose to program—to reflect our values,” Spotify said.

Naturally, the hip-hop community went up in arms over the streaming service’s decision. After the policy was enacted, it was reported that XXXTentacion was projected to lose $60,000 a year because of the platform’s removal of his content. In a backwards move, R. Kelly’s streaming rates actually made a slight climb in numbers — from 6.5 million weekly streams to 6.7 million. Now Bloomberg reports that Grammy award winner Kendrick Lamar called Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek. and Head of AR, Troy Carer, to threaten to pull his music from the platform if the policy remained in tact.

And it worked. Spotify has walked back on its current policy.

The new policy arrives in the midst of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social media movements, which led to the more recent #MuteRKelly initiative. Yet, whether they consciously or knowingly did so, Spotify injected themselves into a controversial cultural moment surrounding sexual assault — even as employees themselves have begun publicly rejecting the policy. Whether the streaming giant is in the right or wrong remains up for debate, but allowing a single artist to strong arm an entire digital platform, similar to the way Taylor Swift steered Apple Music’s initial launch, sets a menacing precedent.

H/T: High Snobiety.

All eyes on Spotify: The music streaming giant is called to continue removing artists accused of sexual misconduct

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Following last week’s removal of R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from Spotifys “editorial or algorithmic playlists,” as part of the platform’s new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy, many voices have sprouted up in response to the controversial move.

To some, the move seems altruistic and honorable. In an age of conscious consumerism, media companies have not only the right, but a duty to uphold the values and beliefs that align with the people who make up the organization. This is the side that Spotify falls into alignment with, as Spotify’s VP/Head of Content, Jonathan Princetold, told Billboard in a statement:

“I think that, frankly, all of us have become increasingly aware of the responsibility that we have when we make recommendations about content, and particularly when we’re doing that in a way that may send signals to our audience about what we believe and what we value.”

On the other hand, proponents of the editorial decision find it contentious and problematic to single out specific artists while leaving others unscathed. In the case of R. Kelly, whose “After Party” tour was cancelled in late 2017 amid allegations that the artist was running a sex cult, a representative from Kelly’s camp told BuzzFeed News that he “supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement.” The rep alluded to the singling out of Kelly as unfair, considering the artist has never been charged with any of these crimes, adding,

“Spotify has the right to promote whatever music it chooses, and in this case its actions are without merit,” the statement reads. “It is acting based on false and unproven allegations. It is bowing to social-media fads and picking sides in a fame-seeking dispute over matters that have nothing to do with serving customers. Meanwhile, though, Spotify promotes numerous other artists who are convicted felons, others who have been arrested on charges of domestic violence and artists who sing lyrics that are violent and anti-women in nature. Mr. Kelly falls into none of these categories, and it is unfortunate and shortsighted that Spotify fails to recognize this.”

Now, a US-based women’s advocacy group, UltraViolet, has come forth to urge the music streaming giant to do the same with other artists accused of sexual assault and/or gender-based violence. In an open letter, UltraViolet executive director Shaunna Thomas pinpoints artists with a history of sexual abuse, including Chris Brown, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nelly, Eminem, Don Henley of The Eagles, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Tekashi 6ix9ine, and Ted Nugent, citing them as artists “who continue to profit from [Spotify’s] promotion.”

“Every time a famous individual continues to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse,” writes Thomas. “That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist.”

Spotify’s next moves are unknown. But, as many new voices continue sprouting new (and hopefully fruitful) conversations, it’s clear that the issue is a tiny microcosm of the identity-based movement in American culture and politics. At the very least, Spotify’s editorial choice has sparked some much-needed debate surrounding issues of sexual misconduct in the music industry, as well as the ongoing related issue of unequal gender representation.

H/T: Consequence of Sound 

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Spotify halts promotion of R. Kelly’s music amid sexual misconduct allegations

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Spotify plans to remove R. Kelly’s music from its algorithmic and official playlists under its new hate content and hateful conduct policy, a set of guidelines that enables Spotify to remove “hate content,” defined by the streaming service as “content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including race, religion, gender, identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.”

Although R. Kelly’s music does not promote “hatred or violence against a group,” the recent accusations of sexual misconduct on the singer’s behalf, alleged by several young women who claim that Kelly coerced them into being members of a “cult,” violate the “hateful conduct” branch of the policy. “When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator,” Spotify’s policy states.

Spotify will consequently refrain from supporting R. Kelly’s music. “His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions—what we choose to program—to reflect our values,” Spotify said.

Kelly has since denied the allegations. Kelly’s representative told BuzzFeed News that Kelly “supports the pro-women goals of the Time’s Up movement.” “We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals—and in this case, it is unjust and off-target,” the rep added.

Photo Credit: BBC

H/T: The Hill