Chance the Rapper: ‘Making a Song With R. Kelly Was a Mistake’

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally written based on Chance the Rapper’s full quotes in Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly docuseries. Following the publication of the article, the rapper wrote on Twitter that his quotes were “taken out of context” and the entire interview was provided. This article has been amended to reflect the full interview.

Chance the Rapper admits he made a “mistake” when he recorded a song with R. Kelly in the final episode of the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.

As both the rapper and the R&B singer are musical icons in their native Chicago, their paths have crossed on numerous occasions: During Chance the Rapper’s Lollapalooza set in 2014, held in the Windy City, he brought out Kelly as a surprise guest. “Make some noise for the Pied Piper of R&B,” he told the crowd.

The following year, Chance the Rapper made a cameo in Kelly’s “Backyard Party” video and collaborated with the singer on “Somewhere in Paradise.” However, in an interview that features in Surviving R. Kelly, Chance said that in hindsight he regretted working with Kelly.

“Making a song with R. Kelly was a mistake,” he told Cassius‘ Jamilah Lemieux in an interview in May, a portion of which was aired in Surviving R. Kelly. “At the time, it wasn’t even present in my mind that people could feel any type of way about his presence on a track of mine. I think for a long time I was only able to understand R. Kelly’s situation and presence in the world when it comes down to his trial and his accusations and his accusers as a victim. I don’t know if that’s because I’m from Chicago or ‘cause he made great music or ‘cause he is a black man.

“We’re programmed to really be hypersensitive to black male oppression,” he added. “But black women are exponentially [a] higher oppressed and violated group of people just in comparison to the whole world. Maybe I didn’t care because I didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were black women. Usually, niggas that get in trouble for shit like this on their magnitude of celebrity, it’s light-skinned women or white women. That’s when it’s a big story. I’ve never really seen any pictures of R. Kelly’s accusers.”

In the interview, the contrite rapper expressed relief that the accusations from the multiple women who have accused Kelly of mental, physical and sexual abuse were getting more widely heard. “I can’t be right all the time,” he said. “I made a mistake and I’m happy that those women are getting voices now and I can grow to understand better what my positioning should be or should’ve been when that opportunity came.”

While artists in the hip-hop and R&B community were reluctant to appear on camera for Surviving R. Kelly, the six-part docuseries credited Vince Staples for calling out Kelly as a “child molester” in a post-Coachella interview that went viral and helped reopen the national conversation about Kelly.

One notable artist who sat down for Surviving R. Kelly was John Legend, who said of his appearance on the docuseries, which concludes Saturday night with two final episodes, “I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”