“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,” Chance told cultural critic and writer Jamilah Lemieux in an interview in May, a portion of which was aired in the docuseries. “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.”
During Chance’s Lollapalooza set in 2014, he brought out Kelly as a surprise guest. In 2015, Chance made a cameo in Kelly’s “Backyard Party” video as well featuring Kelly on his track “Somewhere in Paradise.”
While in hindsight he regrets working with Kelly, Chance’s full interview drew criticism after an excerpt from it suggested he didn't “care” to believe the numerous women who have accused Kelly of sexual abuse "because they were Black women."
The rapper quickly clarified his intentions on Twitter.
Anyone mentioning that I have black women in my family is deliberately missing the point. Regardless of the proximity of beneficial BW in your life, or being black yourself, we are all capable of subconsciously discrediting BW and their stories because its indoctrinated.— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) January 6, 2019
Chance wrote: "...the truth is any of us who ever ignored the R Kelly stories, or believed he was being set up/attacked by the system (as lack men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls. I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out." He also added, “Regardless of the proximity of beneficial BW in your life, or being black yourself, we are all capable of subconsciously discrediting BW and their stories because its indoctrinated.”
Research has shown that Black girls are perceived by adults as much less innocent than white girls and are sexualized from an early age. So, given the truth in Chance’s initial comments, some social media users commended the 25-year-old for being honest and apologetic about his own biases. Others weren’t satisfied with his explanation.
I’m not defending Chance’s decision to do the record. I’m not absolving him of the sins of his past. I’m acknowledging his contrition and supporting his efforts to learn and do better. I thought that was the goal: men stepping up and doing better.— Jamilah Lemieux? (@JamilahLemieux) January 6, 2019
That’s not us missing the point. That’s us understanding that and being disheartened that no matter how much we play a role in men’s lives, the more perceived black we are, we aren’t protected. This is us hearing it, knowing it to be true, and it still hurts.— ✨ (@lookatmyora) January 6, 2019
Surviving R. Kelly, which details two decades' worth of sexual abuse allegations against Kelly, featured more than 50 interviews, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Kelly's ex-wife Andrea Kelly, and John Legend.