John Legend on R. Kelly Documentary: I 'Don't Give a F— About Protecting a Serial Child Rapist'
John Legend's appearance in Surviving R. Kelly "didn't feel risky at all," the EGOT winner tweeted Thursday night, calling it an "easy decision"
Legend — who is one of the only stars speaking out in Surviving R. Kelly, a six-part docuseries on Lifetime — used Twitter ahead of the program’s debut on Thursday to respond to fans who labeled him as brave for criticizing the “Ignition” singer.
“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” wrote Legend, 40. “I believe these women and don’t give a f— about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”
During an interview for the documentary, the “All of Me” singer says, “R. Kelly has brought so much pain to so many people,” and in the series’ last episode, Legend adds, “Time’s up for R. Kelly.”
Surviving R. Kelly features wide-ranging interviews with Kelly’s family members, former friends and colleagues, but most notably, women who claim that for decades the hit-making singer and producer used his power and influence to sexually and physically abuse women and young girls.
Representatives for Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, responded “no comment” to PEOPLE’s request for a response to the allegations made in Surviving R. Kelly and interviews with alleged victims in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now. According to TMZ, Kelly’s lawyer Brian Nix has threatened to sue Lifetime network if it airs the documentary.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the network said, “Lifetime has always been a brand that champions women’s stories. The documentary will air as scheduled, starting tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT.”
Also on Thursday, Legend praised the film’s executive producer, Dream Hampton, writing, “We should all thank my friend @dreamhampton for her very necessary work to create #SurvivingRKelly. These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard. I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice.”
In 2002, Kelly, 51, was indicted after a video surfaced allegedly showing a man engaged in sex acts with a woman who some witnesses testified was 14 at the time of the recording.
“A lot of people saw that tape, it was circulating in the streets,” says Legend, in the documentary. Both Kelly and the woman denied that the video was of them, and Kelly was never charged with assault. In 2008, Kelly was found not guilty on 21 counts of child pornography.
A report from BuzzFeed News released in July 2017 alleged that R. Kelly has kept at least six women in his Chicago and Georgia properties who allegedly fulfill his desires and are punished if they break any of his “rules.” These allegations have never led to formal charges.
Throughout the documentary Legend shares reflections on Kelly throughout the years. Recalling the singer’s biggest hit off of the 1996 Space Jam soundtrack, Legend says “‘I Believe I Can Fly’ is a powerful song and it inspired a lot of people. It was just massive.”
Legend is the only major performer speaking out in the documentary but he is not the only prominent figure who takes part. Wendy Williams is interviewed along with founder of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke and popular radio hosts Charlamagne Tha God and Tom Joyner. Chance the Rapper also makes a brief appearance, voicing regret for working with Kelly amid the recent allegations.
RELATED VIDEO: R. Kelly’s Brothers Break Their Silence in New Documentary Alleging His Abuse Spans Decades
As for the EGOT-winning star’s participation, “That makes John Legend even more of a hero for me,” Hampton told Shadow and Act. After reaching out to dozens of music stars and Kelly’s former collaborators, Hampton said, “Most people don’t want to touch it … because it’s so messy and muddy.”
For more powerful stories from alleged victims of R. Kelly, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands now.
Surviving R. Kelly airs on Lifetime at 9 p.m. ET from Thursday, Jan. 3 to Saturday, Jan. 5.
If you or someone you know think they are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now for anonymous, confidential help, available 24/7.