Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why The New R. Kelly Album Is A Failure

With his legal troubles finally behind him, R. Kelly's Untitled should be the sound a renewed man, a man ready to face the world again for the first time, a man with nothing holding him back, a man who broken free, a man emancipated. it's too bad Untitled contains no celebration, no sense of relief, not even an acknowledgement of awe at the amazing turn of justice of he received or the penalty he faced.. Instead, R. Kelly takes us on a trip........I'm not even going to do this. There's no point in a review in the classic sense, I've thought about this extensively, and I believe I've discovered the central reason why this album is terrible.

In the history of R. Kelly, his songs have explored sex though metaphors that can be charitably described outlandish, but highly entertaining. In many cases, the more absurd the metaphor (outer space and planetary travel) the more R. Kelly throws himself behind it as if to say, "oh you don't think space travel is an acceptable comparison to sexual intercourse, well please allow me to try and change your mind." In a sense, R. Kelly is only as good as his metaphors, or rather, R. Kelly is only as good as the strength of his own perception of his metaphors.

When Double Up came out, I was blown away. I thought R. Kelly had exhausted all metaphors, after comparing sex to his jeep, the ignition of his jeep, so on and so forth over the years, I thought he was done. But on Double Up, he took us into space, he took us to The Zoo, he told us about his Sweet Tooth, etc. I mean come on, the guy took us into space!

And that's when I should have been concerned, cause after you go up into space, put a flag in the moon and become the first couple to make love on planet Neptune, what can you do? It's a long way down from there.

So what does R. Kelly do? What does R. Kelly choose use as his fill in the blank, making love to you is gonna be like__________________? Oh, how about, I want to have sex with you so bad it's like I want to make you pregnant.

I mean, is that even a metaphor, does that even makes sense? Is it even something that he actually wants to do? And I always thought the goal of sex was not to get the girl pregnant, but then again, I've gone about plenty of things in life in entierly the wrong way.

This is not to say it fails because of its inherent simplicity, R. Kelly does simple very well. Some of his greatest songs involve taking a relatively simple concept and expoloring it, beating it to death all the way till the end of the song. Take "A Woman's Threat," when the song starts off, the listener empathizes with the man., but as the song progresses, and we hear more and more about what is going to happen, it gets sadder and sadder, and by the time someone's gonna wear your clothes, and someone's gonna fit your shoes, and someone's gonna get your kids, and someone's gonna open your door, empathy ends, and anger beings. We loose track of who is who in the song, and we feel the woman's threat being visited upon us, not some third party in the song. R. Kelly, through an excessive use of details, has successfully argued just how dangerous this woman's threat can be, and how we listeners need to change our ways so it does not happen.

Eighty percent of R. Kelly's great songs can be divided up into these categories, simple ideas beaten to death, and sexual double or single entdres. This album fails on both of those counts, the metaphors are pointless, tired, and humorless. And the concepts are decent, yet not explored to fruition. With "Sex in the Kitchen" R. Kelly used the kitchen as his metaphor but beat it to death by challenging himself to think of any and every method of food preparation that could remotely be compared to sex. On Untitled's "Banging on the Headboard" only invokes the title during the chorus and the adlibs on what seems like a twenty minute fade out. On a previous album we could have R. Kelly compare the noises of headboards against the walls to the noises his lover creates, the texture of the board to the texture of the woman's body, I really can't come up with too many more examples, as after all, I'm no R. Kelly.

There are some moments of misplaced passionate screaming, the pleading in "Go Low," the yodeling, yes yodeling in "Echo," but these prove to be the exceptions. The saddest thing about Untitled is the sense R. Kelly no longer believes in himself, let's hope he throw away the auto-tuner, goes on a vacation and writes down everything he sees from the security line at the airport to the towels by the pool to room service and turns them into sexual metaphors.


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