Drake, Kanye albums draw scrutiny for tracks crediting R. Kelly, Marilyn Manson

Anna Gabrielle Cerezo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2021 12:27 PM

Drake and Kanye

Two of the most-awaited albums from the biggest rap royalties have put a spotlight on the darker side of the music industry.

Shortly after release, Drake's "Certified Lover Boy" launched on September 3, and Kanye West's "Donda" dropped August 29, came under fire after fans found out the records featured titles crediting accused sex offenders.

One of the names appearing on the star-studded roster of Drake's sixth studio album is R. Kelly, who is currently being tried for sex trafficking and racketeering.

While the R&B singer did not have any active participation in the making of the song "TSU," Drake opted to sample the symphonic intro of Kelly's 1998 single “Half on a Baby,” entitling him to royalties.

Although Kelly's tunes are frequently interpolated by hip-hop artists, "TSU" is so far the most prominent usage, since he was charged with crimes related to sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, West's "Jail Pt. 2" in "Donda" sees the fallen rockstar Marilyn Manson, who is being sued by at least four women for rape, sexual assault, and other misconducts, as one of the songwriters.

Among those who filed the lawsuit were former partners Esme Bianco and Ashley Morgan Smithline. More than a dozen other women accused the singer of abuse, including his other former lover Evan Rachel Wood.

Another eye-brow-raising name associated with the track is Jonathan Kirk, more popularly known as DaBaby, who was recently dropped from the lineups of many music festivals, as well by Dua Lipa whom he collaborated with in "Levitating," after he threw homophobic remarks disguised as humor during the Rolling Loud last July 25.

Manson, along with DaBaby, was also spotted with West during his "Donda" listening party at the Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago.

Following the release of “Jail Pt. 2,” Wood, who said Manson "groomed her" as a teenager, "manipulated her into submission, and "horrifically abused" for years in February, uploaded a video of her covering The New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give” with the caption “For my fellow survivors who got slapped in the face this week. I love you. Don’t give up.”

Critics rallied that the appearance of Manson and Kelly on the albums of music's largest players derides the rising call-out movement that offered victimized women that were previously silenced, a platform to finally be heard.

They further contended that the instance is just among the many cases of the industry again failing to hold charged predators accountable and going as far as valuing and even protecting their career over women's rights.

Activists policing the rampant sexual abuses in the glitzy business also admonished the public to stop excusing the behavior and actions of artists just because they like their releases -- and that separating a celebrity's professional life work from their personal life is not a neutral take but a blow against victims.

They also reminded that apart from the fact that the inclusion of Kelly and Manson in the record-breaking materials glorifies them, the artists are likely to bag a big paycheck as the latest discographies have already taken streaming platforms by a storm, all while their victims suffer the consequences that are not of their choosing.

"Certified Lover Boy" has amassed over 60 million hits during its release day, setting a new all-time high on Apple Music and Spotify. The feat pushed Drake's total streams in the U.S alone to 4.02 billion, the most for any artist in the US in 2021.

"Donda," on the other hand, hit No. 1 in the most countries in Apple Music history to date. Among the territories where the album clinched the top spot is the US, where its titles occupied the entire Top 20, including "Jail Pt. 2," which landed at No. 16. 

The full-length also placed at No. 1 on the Official Albums Chart, West's third chart-topping album in the UK.