Lady Gaga has shared a statement declaring her intent to remove her 2013 R Kelly-featuring single, “Do What U Want,” from streaming and digital purchase platforms. The singer – who self-identifies as a survivor of sexual assault – tweeted an apology for her “poor judgment” in making the song and music video, and for not sooner publicly addressing the decades of sexual abuse and sexual assault allegations against Kelly (all of which he denies).
“My intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life,” she wrote, before adding that she shared the statement on social media “not to make excuses for myself, but to explain.”
“Do What U Want” featured on Gaga’s ARTPOP album. She and Kelly appeared together on Saturday Night Live, singing the song in a performance that was dubbed “awkward” by entertainment media at the time. The official music video for the song was never released, and was due to be directed by Terry Richardson. Historic sexual harassment allegations made against Richardson by models, stylists and others in the fashion industry resurfaced during the 2017 #MeToo wave of revelations. He has since reportedly been blacklisted by magazine media company Condé Nast and brands Bulgari and Valentino.
In 2015, Gaga released "Til It Happens to You," a song and video premised on her experience as an assault survivor. Co-written with Diane Warren, "Til It Happens" appeared on the soundtrack of university campus sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground. Since last week's release of Surviving R Kelly, filmmaker and critic dream hampton's six-part documentary on the allegations made against him, Gaga's fans on social had been asking her to address her collaboration with Kelly. Her apology follows one from Chance the Rapper, who also worked with Kelly and has since expressed regret about doing so. Read Gaga's statement in full below:
"I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and know that their voices should be heard and taken seriously. What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life. My intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life. The song is called “Do What U Want (With My Body)” – I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time.
If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self, I’d tell her to go through the therapy I have since then, so that I could understand the confused post-traumatic state that I was in – or if therapy was not available to me or anyone in my situation, to seek help, and speak as openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through. I can’t go back, but I can go forward and continue to support women, men, and people of all sexual identities, and of all races, who are victims of sexual assault.
I have demonstrated my stance on this issue and others, many times throughout my career. I share this not to make excuses for myself, but to explain. Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels. But I do know how I feel now. I intend to remove this song off iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working with him again. I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you."
Read our interview with dream hampton about making the Surviving R Kelly docuseries that inspired Gaga's apology.
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