R. Kelly continues to amaze me. On this ep, there are two versions of the song and an additional song “Trapped In The Closet (Chapter 1 of 5)”. For one, Kelly continues to put forth the same ideas that he has TP-2.com, where he traded in his slick, and heavily produced sound for a grimier soul-pop shtick that he continues to wallow in today. Kelly is now a singer and a rapper, somewhat of a dual-personality whose rhymes are featured on collaborations with some of the hottest artists around.
First off, the antics on this album are almost more interesting than the songs themselves. While TP3 continues with other chapters of “Trapped In The Closet”, this first chapter in the “urban operetta” (as described on this own web site) finds R. Kelly waking up from a rendezvous with who must be Mr. Big’s girl (again).
This time he is stuck on the fifth floor of some hotel while the girls’ man is walking up the stairs, so he hides in the closet. Gun cocked and loaded, you wait with anticipation to find out whether Kelly takes out the girls’ husband, or the husband actually gets to confront Kelly, as the guy opens the door to the closet. The music is old school urban contemporary, similar to the sound heard on Chocolate Factory, “Ignition” specifically.
Secondly, while In The Kitchen is a good old-fashioned tribute to having sex in a restaurant after hours, Kelly remixes his own song, and the remix will probably eclipse the song in popularity. True to form, Kelly doesn’t use any metaphors, and the fact that he is bold enough to say exactly what is on his mind is what makes him so fun to listen to. He does mention something about, er, um, salad, on this one, of which is completely absent from the clean version. You would normally miss it except that the music sort of climaxes and stops abruptly, and then unwinds back towards its normal pace after he’s said it. It certainly got my attention.
To top it off the remix to “In The Kitchen” is a fast-paced ode to being a player, and bears little resemblance to the erotic lyrics in the original. Kelly spends the better part of 40 seconds defending himself and his antics, and simply wants the love and respect of his fans.
He suggests that detractors “get a job” and leave him the hell alone, to do what he is called to do as a musician. Interesting, because he later says that he can do it “in his sleep”, later on in the song. Such paradoxes go to explain the contradictions of a man who can release a double album “Happy People/You Saved Me”, one of which is heavy gospel and the other one to cut the rug with, with a completely clear conscious.
Add to all of this the fact that Kelly can be difficult to work with. Jay found out as much on such albums as “The Best of Both Worlds” and “Unfinished Business”. The chemistry was so good that the two could tour together, and elevate urban music to new plateaus. Or so Jay thought, as Kelly was MIA once the tour started. Jay was left to finish on his own with a bunch of industry friends, and other Rocafella artists.
It could be worse, the only other huge artist that of late has faced charges of crimes against a minor doesn’t put out good music, and doesn’t continue to evolve and change with the times. Kelly does, and while he made the successful transition from 90s acoustic pop to the futuristic sound of the new millennium, from odes about the love of a woman, or a woman who’s “had enough” to waxing poetic about being a player, a slut, and anything and everything else that only a woman with a desire even greater than his own could work with, few other artists from his era have.
The only remote comparisons are KC & JoJo, and Sisqo, both the likes of which fell off in the worst way when audiences began to doubt their sincerity. With Kelly, you know that his talent can back up what he is saying, regardless of its absurdity. If you do not mind the latter than this single, and the TP3 album are for you.