By Terry Shropshire
After weeks of public outcry, RCA/Sony executives finally relented and have decided to give up the record label’s prized musical commodity, R. Kelly.
In a move that some pop culture prognosticators saw coming, Sony Music has dumped the embattled superstar singer, Variety magazine has reported. RCA/Sony is the only label that Kelly has known during his highly decorated 30-year music career.
RCA Records is said to have removed R. Kelly from its roster of artists on the website on Friday morning, Jan. 18, 2019. Neither RCA Records nor its parent company, Sony Music, have answered repeated calls for comment.
The label’s shocking move comes after decades of calls for R. Kelly’s censorship, investigation, prosecution and conviction for a multiplicity of sexual crimes he is alleged to have committed against numerous women.
But the inflammatory six-part Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” apparently was able to do what rallies, protests and the #MeToo movement were not: get R. Kelly’s label bosses over at RCA/Sony to listen and, more importantly, move to send the singer into musical exile.
Variety reports that RCA/Sony made the move to address its vulnerability “responsibly” and avoid any “legal ramifications.” In other words, when the blizzard of lawsuits is being fired in R. Kelly’s direction, execs at RCA/Sony don’t want to get hit by any shrapnel.
Entertainment attorney Leslie Frank, a partner of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, told Variety that some major-label contracts have provisions stating that if [an artist is] “convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude, generally speaking, it is the label’s right to terminate the contract.
“Any record company — or, really, any party to any contract — can decide they no longer want to be in the contract,” Frank continued. “The question is what can happen as a result of them asserting their desire to terminate the term of the agreement. R. Kelly could sue for damages. If R. Kelly does not want to terminate the agreement and instigates a dispute saying that it’s a breach of contract by RCA, if RCA is concerned about the cost of litigation and how a court might decide, they could try to come to a settlement with R. Kelly.”
Kelly, of course, has not been convicted for any crime, sexual or otherwise. And he has vehemently maintained his innocence from the many charges of pedophilia, sexual violence and keeping women in a sex cult against their will.
Even though Kelly has been cut from the team, RCA/Sony will still hold onto the backlog of Kelly’s music. They had already announced that they would not be releasing any new music from the “Step in the Name of Love” singer.
And now, after incessant pressure brought about from the multipronged protests and all of the artists who are disassociating themselves from R. Kelly, Sony finally decided to pull the plug on a career that seemed to be on its deathbed and deteriorating rapidly.
In fact, some observers would say Kelly’s career has already begun decomposing.