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‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Executive Producer ‘Begged’ Diddy to Confess to Alleged Assaults on Cassie

dream hampton has been holding hip-hop to task for the misogyny it perpetuates since she was a college student writing for seminal rap magazine The Source in the early 1990s. She is perhaps most widely known as an executive producer of the 2019 documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, which chronicled the former star’s long history of child sexual abuse that he was soon after federally pursued and imprisoned for.

Her latest documentary, It Was All a Dream, premiering at Tribeca Film Festival on June 9, captures her prodding rap stars and fans about their lives, politics, and sexism between 1993 and 1995, when she was in her early twenties. “There’s a commitment to patriarchy in our community, and I wish I could say it’s just among men. There are a lot of women who put the P in patriarchy,” she tells Rolling Stone in a new interview on the film. “I always say, we didn’t learn that bitches ain’t shit from the B side of Snoop’s ‘Gin and Juice.’ We learned it from the Book of Genesis.”

Early in It Was All a Dream is a jovial Diddy, known then as Puffy, in the studio with his signee and hampton’s close friend the Notorious B.I.G. This November, when Diddy, whose legal name is Sean Combs, was sued by his former artist and girlfriend, the R&B singer Casandra “Cassie” Ventura, for various acts of sexual assault and violence, hampton hadn’t seen him in years, but she called him to convince him to admit to what she firmly believed he had done. 

“I reached out to him because I know that I’m someone that he’ll listen to. And I said, ‘Puff, I’m not trying to Olivia Pope you at all, [but] I think that you’re done and that it’s time to tap out.’” She hadn’t seen him be abusive, but that didn’t matter. “She was around [them both], but men don’t beat their partners in front of you.” When she felt she hadn’t been clear enough in their conversation, she left him a voice note. “What you need to do, what we need…What we’ve needed really, since Mike Tyson raped Desiree Washington, is one of y’all motherfuckers to just say, ‘I did this. And I’m going to spend the rest of my life, and that includes financial restitution, trying to make this right.’” 

hampton says in their conversation and with her subsequent messages she pleaded that Combs take accountability. “I was like, this is a Sisyphean struggle that women are involved in. The so-called Me Too movement, the rock is coming down. And this whole Johnny Depp, Russell Simmons, deny, deny, deny? That’s not even an option for you, Puff. Nobody is going to believe you. You’re loathed already. So you actually have an opportunity here to enter into a different paradigm.”

She notes before the tape of him physically abusing Cassie was distributed, many observers weren’t taking her accusations seriously, either. “The conversation wasn’t even about Cassie. It was kink shaming and homophobia.”

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Though Combs settled with Ventura for an undisclosed sum of money one day after her suit was filed, he only publicly admitted any wrongdoing when a video of him brutalizing Cassie was obtained by CNN. Previously, his lawyer had denied her allegations as “offensive and outrageous.” In the following months, Combs was accused in six more separate suits of sexual assault, his Miami and Los Angeles homs were raided in an investigation by led by Department of Homeland Security, and in an extensive report of over 50 interviews by Rolling Stone, Combs was alleged to be a serial predator by several people. The article uncovered a previously unreported allegation of violence Combs inflicted on a woman at Howard University as a student in the late 1980s. 

Over the course of the years following the Notorious B.I.G’s murder and hip-hop’s commercialization, hampton, who once saw its revolutionary potential, has fallen out of love with male-dominated genre. “This is an old Black feminist conundrum,” she says. “Like, we want to push men, but we don’t want to push them away. I don’t have that anymore. They could be out. Fuck them. I don’t have like, ‘I need you to know I love you,’ or whatever. But that used to be the approach. After decades of that, it’s clear that that love isn’t being returned.”

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