The Bump n’ Grind singer, who has not been convicted of any crimes despite allegations of sexual misconduct, released a statement saying his songs were about his “love and passion for women” while others who continued to be promoted made songs that were “violent and anti-women in nature”.
On Thursday, the music app said it would no longer promote the songwriter’s tracks in its editorial or algorithmic playlists under its new policy on hate content and hateful conduct.
It comes following a string of sexual misconduct allegations against the 51-year-old, who has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
R Kelly’s management team told Buzzfeed News: “Mr Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women.
“He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff. He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.
“Spotify has the right to promote whatever music it chooses, and in this case its actions are without merit. It is acting based on false and unproven allegations. It is bowing to social media fads and picking sides in a fame-seeking dispute over matters that have nothing to do with serving customers.”
The singer, who rose to prominence with hits such as She’s Got That Vibe, I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition, went on to point out that Spotify was promoting other artists who were “convicted felons” or had been charged for crimes.
Rapper XXXTentacion was also axed from playlists as a result of the streaming service’s new policy.
The 20-year-old, who is awaiting trial over allegations he beat up his pregnant girlfriend, also took aim at Spotify.
His management team did not give a statement but instead responded by asking if other artists accused of crimes would be removed from playlists too.
Speaking to the New York Times, XXXTentacion’s representatives issued a list of more than a dozen artists including everyone from Kiss frontman Gene Simmons – over sexual misconduct claims – to Michael Jackson – over child sex allegations.
They also included sexual misconduct claims against David Bowie and domestic violence allegations against Ozzy Osbourne and James Brown.
Speaking about its new policy on Thursday, Spotify told Billboard: “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behaviour, but we want our editorial decisions – what we choose to programme – to reflect our values.
“When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”
The policy has ignited debate with the move to remove R Kelly and XXXTentacion from playlists potentially opening the floodgates to scrap others.