Showing posts with label r. kelly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label r. kelly. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

video review; 'black panties' by r. kelly

Damn, I wanted this to be better. Ah well.

Next up is Parmalee. Stay tuned!

album review: 'black panties' by r. kelly

Here's a part of my musical philosophy that ends up being more complicated than it sounds: when it comes to music, I need to buy into the romance projected by the artist. I can look past a lot of corny lines and ridiculous lyrics if I can buy into the persona of the performer, and when that persona fractures, it's incredibly difficult to repair. It's one of the reasons why I, like so many critics, find it hard to buy into the romantic sentiments of Chris Brown (or in my case, John Mayer). 

And I can imagine that many fans of modern R&B legend R. Kelly probably felt the same way around the mid-2000s. Sure, his first three albums were damn near untouchable, but in the early 2000s, something went wrong. Maybe it was the criminal allegations, maybe it was the substandard material (although Ignition (Remix) is untouchable), or maybe it was because something got knocked loose in R. Kelly's brain (see his albums with Jay-Z, the disastrous subsequent tour, and all of Trapped In The Closet), but suddenly it got a lot harder to buy into any romance R. Kelly was proposing, especially considering the heavy sexual content in his lyrics. 

And yet things changed for the better in late 2010 when R. Kelly released Love Letter. It was a richly orchestrated homage to early soul and R&B with enough of a modern touch not to feel like a throwback, and it was excellent, mostly because it traded explicit sexuality for sensuality, and it proved to be a great fit for R. Kelly's jawdropping vocals. He followed it up in 2012 with Write Me Back, which moved forward in time to reference the disco era of the mid-to-late 70s, but it also lost a lot of unique flavour in the transition - the album might have been good, but it wasn't great.

But it was worrying when R. Kelly announced a return to his modern R&B roots with his new album Black Panties - mostly because the worst songs on Write Me Back were those that went in a modern direction. And while there isn't anything wrong with going back to your roots, R. Kelly has tread this ground so many times I honestly didn't think there was anything new or interesting he could bring to the table. Was I wrong?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

album review: 'write me back' by r. kelly

Short version: it's good but just shy of great. R. Kelly is always a compelling performer, but it feels like he was on autopilot for this album, and it doesn't quite strike the same gold its predecessor did. Give it a listen, but I'd check out his 2010 album 'Love Letter' first.

It's always interesting to speculate on the questionable sanity of pop artists.

For some people, it's easy. Despite Katy Perry's questionable choices in men, it's obvious from press interviews that's she's quite sane. Jay-Z, likewise, is very much a sane musician and businessman. Same with Usher, and his protege Justin Bieber - they're quite rational, all things considered. In fact, I'd argue most pop acts, given their commercial focus, can be deemed quite sane and rational. 

And then, of course, you have the artists who have questionable sanity at best, or to be blunt, can have their mental state summarized as a blend of mixed nuts and batshit. These are the artists who delve into weirdness and strange spectacle without prodding, and whose antics off-stage are often solid proof of their fragile contact with reality. Some artists really straddle the line, and indeed it's tough to gauge the difference between insane talent and genuine insanity (that'd be your Lady Gaga and Ke$ha analogues), so often times you have to look to more than just the character they play in their music, but also who they are in real life. 

Let's take Kanye West, for instance. The man is a gifted musical producer with incredible and often strange ideas for his music. But the off-the-wall statements, his bizarre rants on Twitter, the incident at the 2009 VMAs with Taylor Swift, and that incredibly bizarre album sampler/art film Runaway that he somehow wrote, directed, starred in, and funded all by himself - all of these suggest a man with amazing talent, but also that something important was knocked loose in his brain. And I don't even think I need to go into the history of a man like Prince, who has done so many off-beat and weird things with both his music and his personal life that I really don't have time to describe them all. Suffice to say, when you have seriously talented artists who might not have all their marbles in a row, the brand of insanity from their actual lives can bleed into their music, and add a real spice to all of their music. 

And with all the talk of insanity, I have to talk about R. Kelly.