Thursday, January 07, 2010

Review: "Untitled" by R. Kelly


Since we last heard from R. Kelly with 2007’s epic “Double Up” the much maligned boyfriend to America’s R&B ladyfans has been acquitted of the charges he faced related to the distribution of child pornography and, at the conclusion of his long-delayed and error-riddled trial, is a free man.

The song that most reviewers have focused on is “Pregnant” (as in, “Girl, you make me wanna get you pregnant”) because, like “Sex Planet” before it, this song leaves the casual R. Kelly listener saying, “Really?” Yes, really. This song reads like a prequel to “Havin’ a Baby” in which Kelly’s woman informs him that she’s pregnant and, since it’s April, that means they’re having a Capricorn.

Regular Kelly fans will remember that he has clarified in other songs (“Leave Your Name”) that there is a qualitative difference from “having sex” and “makin’ a baby,” presumably that “makin’ a baby” doesn’t require the use of condoms. Kells reveals how surprised he is at the seriousness of his feelings: “Tellin’ myself that I’m a player so I keep tryin’ to shake it off/But I keep seein this big old house with a picket fence and a dog.” Aww. Tyrese offers a beautifully sung interlude, promising the girls he can put them in one of his movies (he was in "Transformers," in case you didn't know). Robin Thicke evokes Justin Timberlake with his falsetto promise that if we choose him and “plant this magic seed,” the rest of our life would be “man-drama free.” The Dream gets explicit about contraceptives when he tells us to “put those pills on chill and give me my baby.” And lest we think we might be neglected during our pregnancy, he assuages our fears: “So don’t get it twisted/for thirty-some weeks I’m still gonna hit it.” He thinks pregnant women are sexy, thank god.

Despite the media's predictable focus on "Pregnant," the album features many other better, even more entertaining songs, including the awesome dance jam “Be My #2” in which Kelly invites a woman to be his second girlfriend. Though Kelly is clearly looking for a mistress, the tune goes like a polyamory negotiation and my favorite line is: “Though I love your sex/I can’t/I can’t/I can’t leave her/Though that ass is incredible/I can’t/I can’t/I can’t leave her.” Kelly invites both doubting listeners and hating motherfuckers to see just how many women would love to answer his call when he says “It may sound crazy/To be my second baby/Put your hands up if you/Would like to be my number two.” If we were in the club surely all the hands would go up.

Anyone who listened to “Sweet Tooth” enough times to realize that it was a tribute to eating pussy will be pleased to know that “Untitled” features not one but two songs about going downtown—“Go Low” and “Whole Lotta Kisses.” Just as you look up and think, “Wait, is he talking about…” he clarifies by singing “I wanna kiss you in your private spot.” Interestingly enough, these two songs are the only ones on the album for which Kelly gets the sole writing credit.

Exit” begs a girl to leave the club with him through, you guessed it, the exit. This is fast becoming my favorite song on the album--the singing is phenomenal.

Echo” promises “Sex in the morning, sex all day” and invites a girl to come to his place and follow the clues to the bedroom, where Kelly will be “Waiting for you right there baby/I’ll be waiting to (blanked out) like crazy/I hope you’re ready baby to go all day long/ I hope you’re ready to scream and moan like (yodeling).” Who could turn down that offer? Kelly has even already called your boss to tell him you’re not coming in today.

The album highlight is “Text Me.” At first listen I thought Kelly had picked up T-Pain’s bad autotune habit but it turns out he just sings that fucking good. The chorus is “I’m at my home/Sippin’ on Patron/I’m all alone/So baby text it to my phone.” Anyone who has been lured to a booty call’s house via late night erotic texting will hear their experience reflected in the lyrics.
  • I’m at my home/Sippin’ on Patron/I’m all alone/So baby text it to my phone.” (I’m home alone and drunk, please come over)
  • Hey, how you doin?/Shorty, what you doin?/I don’t got nothin’ to do tonight/So I wanna get with you tonight/Be at my crib at 7/I’ll hit it 7 to 11/and wear that thing I like/and I’ll do that thing you like” (remember that time we had sex for like 2 hours? It’s gonna be like that. But you’ve gotta go at 11 because my girlfriend [number 1] is coming home)
  • They’re ain’t nobody in my home/So we can get as freaky as we want” (My roommates aren’t here)
  • Text me back somethin’ freaky/Let me know how you wanna do me/I'm glad you like that kinky shit too” (If you won’t come over will you at least send me dirty texts I can jerk off to?)
  • I’m on that booty call/I’m on that booty call/I’m on that booty call” (no really, if you get a “What are you doin?” text at night, it’s a booty call)

The only song I don’t like is the auto-tuney “Crazy Night” during which R. City obnoxiously reveals his intentions to, after a week, “delete her/because girl you are not a keeper.” Somebody ought to tell him that you don’t win the game when you show the other team your playbook.

“Untitled” is simply a love record. Kelly is pretty much in love with every girl he sees and doesn’t bother with hardly any mention of the haters we heard so much about on “Double Up.” Clearly the end of his trial has freed up his creative energies to go in a more booty-shaking direction with less of the anger and hostility of his last record. (Oh, and remember "Hair Braider"? that song didn't make this album) The songs aren’t all winners but I’m thrilled that Kelly has returned to his roots and made an album that is really about making love.

Bonus: See Kelly's letter to God from the album's digital booklet below. God uses iTunes!


8 comments:

travis said...

I hadn't been terribly interested in this album. Now, I am. Thanks.

Goose said...

Yeah, me as well. I'd like to have a listening party with you sometime.

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