After all of the completely justified and long overdue backlash against R. Kelly right now, and him appearing on my 2013 STFD list, someone asked me if I could review R. Kelly’s new album, Black Panties, on its musical merits alone. Not as a request, mind you, but in the spirit of challenge. I suggested that it was virtually impossible because, while I am perfectly capable of divorcing art from artists and their trifling proclivities, this is an instance where I have zero faith that the art in question isn’t directly informed by the artist’s fucked-up behavior (which if it were some things I would excuse, but when it’s child fucking, I can’t). Buying the record would make me feel like a criminal. Just listening to it made me feel like an accessory. So really, no, I can submit no objective review of his music. R. Kelly needs to review his fucking life before I need to objectively review his music.
That said, as an experiment, I tried.
I’ll tell you up front that I failed. Like, out the gate, fell with my mouth open, dirt all in my grill, going to the first day of school with a Hitler scab on your face failed. He’s a monster, deal with it.
(Note: This is a review of the 17 track deluxe version because if you’re going to go in on somebody, the least you can do is be thorough.)
1. Legs Shakin’ (f. Ludacris)
First off, I want very much to be mad at every guest artist on this record because they should all know better. That said, there isn’t anybody on this record whose career couldn’t use a boost these days, so hey, why not? The song is basically an ill-hidden riff on Michael Jackson’s “The Lady in My Life” dropped a key or two, but if you’re 15 years old you probably don’t know that and think this song is mad original. It’s no coincidence that the song with the best music is the one taken from a Thriller track. A part of me can’t help but feel Kells is pissing on all of us by opening with a track by someone else who had problems convincing people he liked grown folk sex. An ode to giving oral sex in all its forms, largely consisting of being likened unto a Taser (and for Luda’s part, a Jacuzzi). Lot of tongue objectification here, not so much of the woman in question. Since he says he met her in a club I am choosing to assume she was carded and at least 18.
We are officially introduced to R. Creepy proper here, with references to cookie jars, The Cookie Monster and other seemingly innocent images that could have been bypassed considering everyone thinks you FUCK CHILDREN. Also, congratulations! This song probably holds the 2013 record for “Number of Times ‘Nigger’ is used in an R&B Song.” But dawg: I don’t care how many times you say “Oreo”, the Nabisco sponsorship ain’t happenin’. If he weren’t already socially branded a predator, this track would pretty much kick-off the investigation.
3. Throw This Money On You
In an attempt to convince the world he’s not a total pedophile we get an ode to strippers, who just HAVE to be 18, right?!
I was informed that I have to do the breaks, too. Fine: it sucks. If you ever wondered what your drunk touchy uncle sounded like on the phone, here you go.
5. Marry The Pussy
The most misogynistic, sexually dis-empowering, anti-feminist song I’ve heard all year, and I listened to Tyler, The Creator’s Wolf a bunch of times. “Pussy” does not equal “woman” in R. Kelly’s world. “Pussy” equals ring finger, personality, friend, love, confidant, a singer, a pizza, a mother (or it could be a waitress), a covenant, a special occasion, an ass, a car (of COURSE), Miami weather, a landing strip, dinner, lips, Anna Mae Bullock, mining rights, a flash flood (though I don’t understand how a pussy could drown itself, but whatever), a waiting room, a long trip, an out of shape gym client, and Southern ass. He sings the word “pussy” 57 times in 4 minutes. He says it so much it sounds like the way someone who doesn’t get pussy talks. Of course, we know that’s not true. R. Kelly gets lots of pussy…he just gets pussy that can’t count to 57. Also, oral sex makes its fifth appearance in five songs. At this point it’s not a metaphor; it’s an overture.
6. You Deserve Better
For a man who probably should have blown out his throat years ago from all of the pussy he eats, Kelly is a fine singer. However, he resorts to autotune on this derivative track, mostly because, again, pussy dries out your mouth.
The first song on this dumpster fire that doesn’t have a questionable reference in it, save that it’s sung by R. Kelly. No “nigger”, no “pussy”, no oral sex…this is the R. Kelly equivalent of musical missionary. It’s still nasty enough, but it’s black radio nasty.
8. All The Way (f. Kelly Rowland)
Somebody call Kelly’s momma; she know damn well she don’t need to do this song. This song is more funny than anything else: “Hey, we might as well have sex since I’ve got a condom on and you’ve got your ass poked in the air.” I mean, how did two people with functioning brains end up in that scenario unless they was already fucking? Was this a naked lap dance? Is this some tantric tease shit? No one in the history of hook-ups has ever been drunk enough that they were grinding with their girl with a condom on and her naked ass was in the air and it STAYED grinding. Illogical as fuck.
9. My Story (f. 2 Chainz)
More autotune masturbating featuring the most unnecessary and ineffectual guest appearance in the history of songs about fucking. I mean, about how far you’ve come up. I mean, about fucking.
10. Right Back
This song is the “nigga” equivalent of “Marry the Pussy”. I count 42 uses. By contrast, NWA’s “Straight out of Compton” features the word 7 times, not counting their name. Basically, R. Kelly is more ignorant than 4 classic gangsta rappers combined.
11. Spend That (f. Young Jeezy)
A plaintive, impotent lecture that drones on about how much money he has and what he spends it on. Surprisingly, sneakers and McDonalds meals is missing from the list.
12. Crazy Sex
Interestingly enough, of all the things that Kells wants to do that are crazy, some pretty straight forward stuff appears on this list: fucking on a balcony, fucking loud, fucking someone’s weave out. What’s not there? Pissing on someone. Guess that’s not worth a couple of bars in Kellyworld.
13. Shut Up
After 10 songs about pussy, I really thought this song was going to be, you know…obvious. As it turns out, it’s not about him being rapey so much as him trying to man-up against all his criticism…while clearly heeding instructions by his legal team not to mention what anybody might be criticizing him about. I’m reasonably sure no one is dwelling on the rumor that he lost his house at this point in the game. So, nice try, Sylvester, but sit the fuck down.
[ DEAR READER: If you shamed your god and actually bought this CD, the tracks end here. If you got the deluxe version (“Now with 33% more pussy references!”), this madness goes on for 4 more tracks. We soldier on. ]
14. Tear It Up (f. Future)
Future, more concerned last year with whether or not his album had a 3D cover than good music, shows up here for a taste of bullshit that sounds just like what it is: an R. Kelly outtake.
15. Show Ya Pussy (f. Migos & Juicy J)
I’m pretty sure Luther Campbell turned this beat down twice back in 1992. Miami bass never sounded as unnecessary as it does here, with yet another attempt by Kelly to throw us off the trail of all the teenagers and toilet seats in his closet with another song about – you guessed it – strippers.
This is the kind of song we used to give R. Kelly a pass on so we could still use it to get into someone’s draws. At this point, even the innocuous stuff just sounds pervy. Still can’t fuck with it.
17. Every Position
In all fairness to the prowess of his legal team, he could very well have ended the line, “Get you in my bed, have you hitting them notes like Aretha” with “Aaliyah”, but pulled the punch once someone who gets 12% of his royalties shook the fuck out of his shoulders Mommy Dearest style, rubbed his face in a spreadsheet of his “I Believe I Can Fly” royalties and said, “No.” Too bad these guys were asleep at the wheel when he went on Twitter to live chat with fans a week ago.
P.S.) I tried real hard not to point out that this album stops at 17, much like his taste in women. As you can see, I fucking failed.
The fact that this album exists after all his efforts to remedy his image just shows you how diabolical Kelly is. He’s an unrepentant supervillain with a studio, and his weapon is playing with folks’ minds. And his dick.
As far as this record goes musically, I’ll put it this way: when Michael Jackson was alleged to have slept with kids, I didn’t in turn think, “Oh, ‘The Lady in My Life’ was about fucking little boys.” With R. Kelly, the exact opposite is true: he has such a bad rap and the evidence is so overwhelming – and so large – and so piled up – and so poorly contested – and so not helped by the content of this record – that it is virtually impossible to hear a line like…
“My bed can be your stage, and I’ma make you a star
Your legs in the air and my hands all up in your cookie jar”
…and not imagine he’s saying it to the-daughter-I’m-ecstatic-he’ll-never-met. I wouldn’t want R. Kelly to kick it with my grown daughter, let alone one that was still trying out for her school’s In The Know team. In short, fuck R. Kelly and fuck this record. It’s jailbait chum. I’m going to Q-Tip my ears with a rusty drain snake and call my mother.