Celebrity

Spotify has R Kelly removed from its playlists amid sex cult allegations

The move has sparked debate.

R Kelly is being wiped from Spotify's editorial playlists after the streaming service introduced a new public Hate Content and Hateful Conduct policy that clashes with the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct aimed toward the R&B star.

While the 51-year-old denies all abuse claims -- last year it was alleged he was running a sex cult that brainwashed young women -- Kelly's music will no longer be promoted on playlists such as Rap Caviar and Discover Weekly because he doesn't reflect the "values" outlined by the Swedish company.

"We are removing R. Kelly's music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly," Spotify told Billboard in a statement. "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. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator."

Spotify's head of content and marketplace technology Jonathan Prince also told Billboard:

Following years of accusations of sexual abuse against women and children, the Kelly's sex cult claims came to light in 2017 in a jaw-dropping Buzzfeed report that painted him as a "piped piper" holding women against their will and controlling "every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records," the article said.

But despite all the allegations, Kelly's reps are railing against Spotify's move, pointing out the Grammy-winner has never been found guilty.

In a statement published on Variety, the rapper's management said:

Kelly's reps accused Spotify of acting "without merit" in a decision "based on false and unproven allegations". In the wake of the #metoo movement the #muteRKelly hashtag also surfaced, trying to highlight Kelly's alleged indisgretions, and the rapper's people say the music platform is "bowing to social-media fads and picking sides in a fame-seeking dispute".

Spotify's policy has also been applied to rapper XXXTentacion. The rapper "is facing charges in Florida that include aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and witness tampering, was also removed from playlists as of Thursday," according to the New York Times. The 20-year-old, who denies the accusations leveled at him, recently appeared on the Rap Caviar playlist.

Fellow rapper 50 Cent pointed out his issue with Spotify's decision tweeting, "Spotify is wrong for what there doing to artist like R Kelly and xxxtentacion. There not even convicted of any thing."

Aishah White, a spokeswoman for XXXTentacion, told the New York Times: "I don't have a comment, just a question. Will Spotify remove all the artists listed below from playlists?"

She included the names of several musicians, including Gene Simmons, Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osbourne and Dr. Dre, who have also faced allegations of sexual misconduct or violence over the years.