R. Kelly “Black Panties” Review

(Photo Credit: theurbandaily.com)

R. Kelly’s 12th album is the icky madness of his ’90’s work, with no advancement. Ewwwwwwwwwww.

You would think an album titled “Black Panties” wouldn’t have any real poetic revelation behind it, and you’d be absolutely right. But R. Kelly seems to think so: “Every time I’m singing panties start flying out of everywhere. Seriously. But this particular night, a pair of mediums came out of the sky and they were black and they landed on my wrist. Immediately I looked at that and looked up like “that’s a sign”. Yeah, the idea hit me right away.” Now, R. Kelly’s last two albums were soulful journeys that took him out of his comfort zone, and showed successful progression. Unfortunately, it’s all destroyed by this album’s back-to-basics approach. Kells wanted to do something different than before, and while it is, it’s also exactly the same as what came before that.

“Black Panties” is by no means a bad album. It’s got all the giant hooks you expect, and R. Kelly continues to proves his unique talent of effortlessly blending R&B with hip-hop. It’s just icky, even by his standards. Second track “Cookie” is centered around the comparison of cunnilingus to licking the cream center of an Oreo, in some product placement that Oreo must not be happy about. I shouldn’t have listened to the album at lunchtime, it killed my appetite. Other titles include “Legs Shakin’,” “Crazy Sex” and “Marry the Pussy,” a song that probably sounded much sweeter (like an Oreo) in his head. One song references, intentionally or not, the “bend her over and show her the fifty states” joke from Horrible Bosses. Probably not intentional, but a weird line nonetheless.

The non-icky songs do little to stand out. “My Story” is a pretty generic “started from the bottom” song, and “You Deserve Better” and “Genius” don’t do much more. The final song, though, does stand out. “Shut Up” directly confronts the critics that have said R. Kelly’s career is waning. Indeed, it isn’t, and Kelly roars back against them. It doesn’t do any poetic justice, but it’s a divergent and confrontational way to end the album.

R. Kelly’s history with sex is publicly scandalous, and it’s what really makes the album so gross. He has almost embraced the scandal and reversed it into a joke-like “I messed up, this is my way of dealing!” type thing. And it almost works. It was a while ago. But it’s a joke that we just aren’t as onboard with as him. It’s impossible to listen to these songs and not imagine them being sung to underage girls. So if you’re looking for a true throwback, and you don’t mind the questionable images, “Black Panties” might be in your favor. But it does little to advance the man who once gave us “I Believe I Can Flay” and the War and Peace-lengthed saga “Trapped in the Closet.” It’s repetitive and over-sexual, and ranks as only a minor notch in R. Kelly’s long career.

Grade: C

-By Andrew McNally

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