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Review: R. Kelly - 'Untitled'

Like a Sex Machine ...

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 4 Star Rating (2 Reviews)


R. Kelly is so immensely talented that it's almost impossible to hate him. Despite being tainted by allegations of having unlawful sex with a minor, he managed to survive the years-long scandal relatively unscathed and definitely unrepentant. And on his latest album, Untitled (released in the U.S. on Dec. 1, 2009) Kellz is back up to his old musical escapades again. The album is R. Kelly doing what he does best: singing about sex, sex, and more sex. And although he's spent his whole career making bedroom music, he definitely isn't bored with the topic, and he makes that perfectly clear throughout the album.

Direct, Straightforward

Untitled is R. Kelly's 10th album, making him one of the few R&B artists (along with Mary J. Blige and Brian McKnight, to name a couple), who have been able to not only survive but thrive in the fickle nature of the music industry. Unlike some male singers who have a strong female fan base but few devoted male fans, R. Kelly seems to be admired by both women and men equally. Women like his songs because it sounds like he's singing directly to them; men like his music because Kelly is like an extension of themselves; they can put themselves in his shoes as he sings his songs about love and romance. And example of how relatable Kelly is is the song "How I Do," on which he sings about his special qualities: "See there's a lot of things I can't do; and yeah, mistakes I make a lot of; but in a couple categories I do blow the competition out of the water/there's only two things in this world that I'm the best at, it's true/number one is music and baby girl number two - can't nobody work your body out like I do."

If lyrics like those thrill you, then you'll love Untitled; the album's chock full of typical R. Kelly bump-n-grind-isms, such as on "Bangin' the Headboard," when he sings "the truth is that you want me and I want you, uhhh/so let's quit playin' around and get our ass under this cover." It's not exactly subtle - Robert Kelly never has been and probably never will be in his music - but you've got to admire his direct, straightforward approach.

Personality & Passion

One of Kelly's best-known sognwriting techniques is his use of metaphors in his lyrics. Songs like "You Remind Me of Something," "Ignition" and even "Sex Planet" (off his Double Up album), all use other things as metaphors for sex. And Kelly continues the tradition on the album's first official single, "Number One," featuring Keri Hilson. On the song, lovemaking is compared to a chart-topping song: "Making love to you is like makin' hits ... I'm in your mix like a number one record and the beat goes on and on," Kelly sings.

Although the topic matter is the same as it ever was for Kellz, he does switch things up a little when it comes to his backing music. "I Love the DJ" is a synth-heavy, Techno-lite dance club track; "Supaman High," featuring rapper OJ da Juiceman is a Dirty South crunk track; and the album's opening track, "Crazy Night," featuring the Rock City duo, is Kellz' version of the Auto-Tuned party music that T-Pain has specialized in the past few years. But throughout the various changes in musical styles on various songs, it's Kelly's distinctive personality and passionate vocals that hold the album together and make it a cohesive package instead of just a collection of songs. Untitled isn't his best album, but it's definitely far better than his last official album, 2007's hip-hop influenced Double Up. If Kelly keeps making music this good, he just might win back more fans who abandoned him after his legal problems of the past several years.

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