Somehow, R. Kelly has risen to the top of the charts for the second time since his alleged encounter with an underage fan, and once again, his success is all about the sex. The 2003 smash "Ignition" was already pretty brazen -- I think Kelly was still getting a few drops out while he recorded the afterparty-loving hook for that one -- but this year, he must truly believe he can fly.
TP.3 Reloaded, which hit stores last month, has enough horny material to appease both Kelly's fans and haters. "Sex in the Kitchen" sets the tone (and the table) with kitchen metaphors: I'm ready to toss your salad/While makin' love, girl, I'll be feastin'. Mmm, mmm, bitch! But it's the end of the album that has everyone talking. "Trapped in the Closet," the five-part closing track, recounts an infidelity-packed story in which everybody's screwing everybody behind everybody else's back.
Cheating spouses? Check. Homosexual confessions? Yup. Guns, cops and condoms? All here.
Oh, my land -- this has to be the stupidest song ever. The exact same beat (using water-drop sounds for percussion -- gross!) and song structure repeat for 15 minutes. Kelly speak-sings with nary a melody as though he's ad-libbing the story to a Jerry Springer episode, and his rhymes and details are so weak, trite and laughable that the song seems better suited for a Comedy Central parody.
When he tries to escape a cheating wife's house, he rhymes go out the window with we on the fifth flo'. When the husband and his gay lover arrive, the names Rufus, Chuck and Kathy get thrown around like chairs on a trashy TV show. Even funnier is when Kelly gets caught because of his phone ringing and he shouts in overzealous, American Idol fashion, I tried my best to quickly put it on viii-III-iii-braaa-AAA-aaate!
Rufus? Fifth flo'? Vibrate? "When a Man Loves a Woman" this is not. But Kelly worked the soap-opera angle by gradually releasing each chapter with mega-cheesy music videos to match. What a hook -- fans wondered what the tabloid-tarnished Kelly might say in the next chapter or what weird turn the story would take, and soon enough, the song became a phenomenon.
Really, Kelly has become the Schick Quattro of R&B. You know, the four-blade razor that immediately came out after Gillette made the first three-blade. It's as if he heard Usher's two-part hit from last year, "Confessions," and got pissed. "Usher thinks he's dope? I'll show his ass. FIVE! That's how apologetic a mothafucka I can be!"
But that's nothing. Kelly always tries to stay ahead of the R&B game, which means he's not sitting idly by and waiting for Usher to record an eight-part response. In an amazing turn of good fortune, I secured an advance, supersecret copy of "Shopping at the Mall," the 43-part song he's preparing for release next spring. It's already being pegged by Rolling Stone and Spin as the most important urban-music achievement of our generation. To understand its depth and beauty, I take you to the song already in progress at chapter 27, "Bath and Body Works" (which, by the way, has the same melody as "Trapped in the Closet").
So we just left Sbarro
Ate too much spaghetti at Sbarro
I look over at my girlfriend
And say, "Guess we should go joggin' tomorrow"
She says, "Whatchoo tryin' to sayyy,
Are you callin' me big 'n faaat?"
(falsetto) And all the Bath and Body Works employees are looking at me (end falsetto)
And I say, "Oh, baby, I didn't mean that ..."
The emotional turmoil only increases, especially when it reaches a dramatic peak in chapter 39, "Sharper Image."
So she looks up at me
Says, "I need that back massager"
And I'm all like, "That's great, girl,
But I just can't aff-ahd her"
(Drums and singing become louder)
And she starts all huffing and flippin' ouuut
So I say, "I'll buy anything for you-u-UUU-AHH-UUU"
And the clerk swipes the Pro-Shiatsu
He swipes the Shiaaatsuuu
He looks up and swipes the Shiaaatsuuu
I say, "Baby, it'll be fiiine!"
One mo' time, swipes the Shiaaatsuuu
Says my Visa's been declined ... declined ... declined ... (echo to silence)
At first listen, the epic sounds like some broke-ass guy inventing stories off the top of his head about the mall, but it's really a poignant statement about mall security guards, relationship struggles and Orange Julius. Kelly is in talks to include up-and-coming guests on the track, such as Slim Thug, Mike Jones and the white kid who freestyle raps in front of Hot Topic.
Though R. Kelly didn't actually write those mall songs, I give him permission to borrow and use them as he pleases. After all, I'm old enough to legally consent.