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When Will The Music Industry Have Its #MeToo Moment?

Written by on January 24, 2020

61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - Inside

Last week, The New York Times reported Russell Simmons, the notorious music mogul and co-f0under of Def Jam Recordings, tried to intimidate Oprah Winfrey into abandoning her role as executive producer for an upcoming documentary featuring his accusers. Though she denied her decision was due to his tactics, Oprah pulled out of the film a week before its Jan. 25 Sundance premiere — citing creative differences.

On The Record is an exposé on sexual misconduct within the music industry featuring three women that accused Simmons of rape, including former Def Jam Recordings executive Drew Dixon. In 2017, the New York Police Department began investigating Simmons following three rape allegations. He has since been accused of sexual violence by more than a dozen women, including Rachel Getting Married screenwriter Jenny Lumet, who detailed her violent rape for The Hollywood Reporter.

“I told [Russell Simmons] directly in a phone call that I will not be pressured either into, or out of, backing this film,” Oprah said.

The New York Times

Many of the accusations fall outside the state statute of limitations, and Simmons (who denies all allegations) has avoided criminal prosecution. The media mogul’s sudden departure left the film without a distributor. Dixon told the Times, “I feel like I’m experiencing a second crime. I am being silenced. The broader community is being intimidated. The most powerful Black woman in the world is being intimidated.”

This week, in a discrimination complaint filed by his successor Deborah Dugan, former CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Neil Portnow was accused of raping an unnamed female recording artist. According to Dugan’s attorneys, she protested the toxic work environment during her tenure and felt the Academy was only concerned with “self-dealing and turning a blind eye to the ‘boys’ club’ environment, obvious improprieties and conflicts of interest.” News of a possible rape cover up involving a president of the Recording Academy only strengthens claims of widespread sexual misconduct within the music industry.

In 2019 alone, R&B singer R. Kelly was arrested and imprisoned while awaiting his sexual abuse trial, rapper The Game lost a $7M sexual battery lawsuit (his music royalties were seized to pay the judgement), singer-songwriter Ryan Adams was accused of harassment and sexual abuse by several women and came under investigation by the FBI for alleged misconduct with an underage female fan, and Beyoncé and Jay Z’s music producer lost a $15M rape lawsuit. Rapper Kodak Black is awaiting trial for raping a high school student, while serving time for weapons charges, and music producer and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records Damon Dash is currently facing a $50M sexual battery lawsuit.

These are just a few of the stories we know about.

Despite a fickle reverence for Kesha, and other pop stars that share their experience of sexual assault, the American public has shown little interest in holding high-profile sex criminals in the music industry accountable. R. Kelly retains a loyal fan base, and rapper and convicted child rapist Tekashi 6ix9ine just signed a new $10M record deal while serving time for racketeering. But, will new rape allegations spark an outpouring of testimonies from other survivors — emboldened by the Me Too Movement years after it caught fire — forcing us to finally pay attention?

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61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - Inside

Pictured at the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards – Former President and CEO of The Recording Academy, Neil … [+] Portnow, was accused of raping an unnamed female recording artist leading to his termination. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Fonkoze's ″Hot Night In Haiti″ Los Angeles Event

Pictured at Fonkoze’s “Hot Night In Haiti” Event – Music mogul Russell Simmons is the subject of a … [+] new documentary ‘On The Record’ about sexual misconduct within the music industry. (Photo by Amy Graves/WireImage)

WireImage

Last week, The New York Times reported Russell Simmons, the notorious music mogul and co-f0under of Def Jam Recordings, tried to intimidate Oprah Winfrey into abandoning her role as executive producer for an upcoming documentary featuring his accusers. Though she denied her decision was due to his tactics, Oprah pulled out of the film a week before its Jan. 25 Sundance premiere — citing creative differences.

On The Record is an exposé on sexual misconduct within the music industry featuring three women that accused Simmons of rape, including former Def Jam Recordings executive Drew Dixon. In 2017, the New York Police Department began investigating Simmons following three rape allegations. He has since been accused of sexual violence by more than a dozen women, including Rachel Getting Married screenwriter Jenny Lumet, who detailed her violent rape for The Hollywood Reporter.

“I told [Russell Simmons] directly in a phone call that I will not be pressured either into, or out of, backing this film,” Oprah said.

Many of the accusations fall outside the state statute of limitations, and Simmons (who denies all allegations) has avoided criminal prosecution. The media mogul’s sudden departure left the film without a distributor. Dixon told the Times, “I feel like I’m experiencing a second crime. I am being silenced. The broader community is being intimidated. The most powerful Black woman in the world is being intimidated.”

This week, in a discrimination complaint filed by his successor Deborah Dugan, former CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Neil Portnow was accused of raping an unnamed female recording artist. According to Dugan’s attorneys, she protested the toxic work environment during her tenure and felt the Academy was only concerned with “self-dealing and turning a blind eye to the ‘boys’ club’ environment, obvious improprieties and conflicts of interest.” News of a possible rape cover up involving a president of the Recording Academy only strengthens claims of widespread sexual misconduct within the music industry.

In 2019 alone, R&B singer R. Kelly was arrested and imprisoned while awaiting his sexual abuse trial, rapper The Game lost a $7M sexual battery lawsuit (his music royalties were seized to pay the judgement), singer-songwriter Ryan Adams was accused of harassment and sexual abuse by several women and came under investigation by the FBI for alleged misconduct with an underage female fan, and Beyoncé and Jay Z’s music producer lost a $15M rape lawsuit. Rapper Kodak Black is awaiting trial for raping a high school student, while serving time for weapons charges, and music producer and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records Damon Dash is currently facing a $50M sexual battery lawsuit.

These are just a few of the stories we know about.

Despite a fickle reverence for Kesha, and other pop stars that share their experience of sexual assault, the American public has shown little interest in holding high-profile sex criminals in the music industry accountable. R. Kelly retains a loyal fan base, and rapper and convicted child rapist Tekashi 6ix9ine just signed a new $10M record deal while serving time for racketeering. But, will new rape allegations spark an outpouring of testimonies from other survivors — emboldened by the Me Too Movement years after it caught fire — forcing us to finally pay attention?

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