Album: R Kelly

Happy People / U Saved Me, JIVE
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The Independent Culture

You have to hand it to R Kelly - he hasn't let his embarrassing legal problems get in the way of his productivity. Happy People/ U Saved Me is a double-album whose discs offer, respectively, a full slate of funky steppers and a complete set of devotional gospel songs - sort of a Saturday-night and Sunday-morning experience in the one convenient package. Indeed, shame over his court case might even have spurred the born-again sentiments of the second disc which finds Kelly, in tracks such as "U Saved Me", enumerating his god's saving powers. After a while, the phrase, "then I was in a bad accident?" fails to evoke sympathy, and by halfway through, it's almost as enjoyable as an hour spent discussing the Prophet Joseph Smith with crew-cut young Americans. The Happy People album, though, is almost faultless, with Kelly displaying both the easy charm of Stevie Wonder and the silken touch of Marvin Gaye, on grooves that update the classic Philly Soul sound of Gamble & Huff and the Miami f

You have to hand it to R Kelly - he hasn't let his embarrassing legal problems get in the way of his productivity. Happy People/ U Saved Me is a double-album whose discs offer, respectively, a full slate of funky steppers and a complete set of devotional gospel songs - sort of a Saturday-night and Sunday-morning experience in the one convenient package. Indeed, shame over his court case might even have spurred the born-again sentiments of the second disc which finds Kelly, in tracks such as "U Saved Me", enumerating his god's saving powers. After a while, the phrase, "then I was in a bad accident?" fails to evoke sympathy, and by halfway through, it's almost as enjoyable as an hour spent discussing the Prophet Joseph Smith with crew-cut young Americans. The Happy People album, though, is almost faultless, with Kelly displaying both the easy charm of Stevie Wonder and the silken touch of Marvin Gaye, on grooves that update the classic Philly Soul sound of Gamble & Huff and the Miami funk grooves of Little Beaver. He even manages, in "Love Signals", Marvin's trick of bringing a political resonance to a simple message of love, his creamy vocal like balm on a bruised social fabric.

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