**** (out of 4)
Full disclosure: I am a bona fide fan of R. Kelly's music. So much so that I co-host a bimonthly party called Bump & Grindcore where we celebrate R&B of the ‘90s and 2000s, using him as the inspiration. This review exists solely to critique the music, not the man. No attempt will ever be made to make light of the allegations in his past. Got it? Good.
To correct a current misunderstanding about the genre: Generally, R&B music is about love, sex, and what happens when those two things intersect. (Sometimes they don't. It happens!) It should provoke reaction. That being said, welcome to "Black Panties," R. Kelly's 13th solo record. He isn't playing here--this album is about two things: 1. Sex and 2: See No. 1. The artist wants "Panties" to be played while engaging in hardcore sexual acts that may or may or may not result in cramps and sweaty sheets. If you aren’t into that kind of thing, don’t listen to this album.
Songs like "Legs Shakin'," "Marry the P***y" and "Cookie" aren't clever allusions meant to be sung with a wink. If anything, the downright frank nature of this album is refreshing. These aren't tunes you'll hear a newly married couple choose for their first dance, unless you have really interesting friends.
Speaking of interesting, album standout "Shut Up" is the closest we've come to a hardcore “[Bleep] you” from Kells in awhile. The track reflects on his return from his 2011 throat surgery, his many allegations and his current disappointment with his lack of respect out here. Note his last verse:
No offense to the other artist, but come on, dog, let’s be honest/How many babies been made off me?/Every boy, every girl, every child around the world/From the '90s up until the day was made off me."
Wow. Tell us how you really feel, Kells.
Here’s how I really feel: Both Kelly die-hards and those who only know hits like "Ignition (Remix),” "Bump N' Grind," "I Believe I Can Fly" and the sprawling campiness of the "Trapped in the Closet" series must give this album a listen to see a master (of singing songs that make you want to bone) in action.
ALSO: R. Kelly's 'Black Panties' by the numbers
3 – Number of seconds before Kelly starts talking about sex
4 – Featured artists on the album (Kelly Rowland, Young Jeezy, 2 Chainz and Ludacris)
13 - Number of R. Kelly solo albums to date
58 - Number of times p***y is said on the song “Marry the P***y"
5,555,102,451* – Number of human beings born between 1990 and 2000 that R. Kelly claims his music is responsible for creating on "Shut Up." ("Every boy, every girl, every child around the world/From the '90s up until the day was made off me.")
(*Number taken from 1990 and 2000 reports from the U.S. Census Bureau.)
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