Kehlani Addresses R. Kelly and XXXTentacion Backlash: 'Nobody Ends up Getting Canceled'

The singer-songwriter discussed "cancel culture" on this week's episode of 'Sunday Gems.'

Image via Getty/C Flanigan/FilmMagic

On this week's episode of Sunday Gems, Kehlani and Reyna Biddy tackle the complexities of "cancel culture," and how public outcry appears to have little to no negative effects on the accused. Kehlani argues that, in many cases, the backlash can unfortunately help a career.

"Let's be real, real, real. Nobody ends up getting canceled," Kehlani said. "These people that we go in on—and it becomes heartbreaking sometimes—their streaming goes up, their views go up, they get more followers; they're still booking shows. It's disheartening as f**k."

It's no secret R. Kelly has become one of the most prominent targets within "cancel culture." The #MuteRKelly hashtag has appeared in countless social media posts, with critics calling on fans to boycott the alleged sexual predator. The R&B singer has faced mounting scrutiny since the release of the six-part docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, which explores his longstanding abuse allegations. Shortly after the series' premiere earlier this month, Neilsen reported a spike in Kelly's music sales as well as his audio and video streams.

Kehlani may question the impact of "cancel culture," but she supports the sentiment behind it.

"It's not even the act of the canceling itself that I support. It's the act of if you are feeling unsafe and you are feeling unheard and someone has made you feel absolutely just low as hell, then you have every right to express your anger about that, and you have every right to set a boundary between yourself and this person," she said. "And potentially, if you feel like they're putting other people in danger, be loud about that s**t."

Kehlani and Reyna also touched on the controversy surrounding XXXtentacion, the late rapper who was facing domestic battery charges prior to his June 2018 murder. The women said they, in no way, support XXX, but found it difficult to observe all the hate he received following his death. 

"The cancel culture was like, 'Well, he deserved it, because he did this to who knows how many others.' It hurt me, because I almost feel like we projected that hate onto him," Kehlani said. "[...] Again, I'm not saying I support this person; but it also is so inhumane sometimes of the way that we're so willing to bully someone."

Kehlani and Reyna specifically expressed their sympathy for XXX's mother, and how it was difficult to address the situation without offending his mourning family. 

"[...] Everything I was seeing was pain. Am I advocating for this man? Absolutely not. Do I to this day? Absolutely not. Do I condone his violent actions? Absolutely not. Do I support that? No," Kehlani explained. "But there was so much pain that my only stance in that at the moment was 'Damn. There is pain coming from every angle of the room right now.'"

Kehlani also opened up about her own experience with sexual assault and the struggle she endured after realizing she was a victim of rape. But even after accepting her own abuse, the outspoken singer was hesitant to share her stories on social media. 

"There is nothing I can say that is new, that I feel like is providing a real take, that I feel isn't gonna take away from the conversation," she explained. "I don't want to add more hurt, I don't want to add more pain. All I want to say is, 'Sending love to everybody who's on a healing path right now, and sending love to everybody who needs it. And if you're apologizing for abuse, you're disgusting, suck my dick.' You know what I'm saying?"

You can check out other clips from Sunday Gems' latest episode below.

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