R Kelly, Black Panties: Album review
Let’s talk about sex, baby – and nothing but sex
While it seems likely that R. Kelly’s lasting artistic legacy will be the endlessly proliferating erotic “hip-hopera” saga Trapped in the Closet, Black Panties finds him getting back to his core business with rather less artistic ambition.
Kelly has always been obsessed with two-backed beastliness, but here his sexual expression is at a brutally explicit level: like the desensitising effect of prolonged exposure to pornography, it’s as if he can’t reach the required level of titillation without becoming more brazen about it. It speaks volumes that the single-minded dedication to “Crazy Sex” results in nowhere near the album’s most blush-worthy track. That dubious honour is perhaps more justly bestowed on the paean to cunnilingus “Cookie”, wherein his partner’s privates are compared to an Oreo; or on any of several celebrations of lapdance encounters, such as “Spend That” and “Throw This Money on You”.
We are way beyond the point of politicised analysis of objectivisation: by comparison, Spinal Tap’s incomprehension about sexism seems quaintly innocent. Which is not to say there’s no humour about Black Panties. Such is Kelly’s incessant repetition of the P-word in “Marry the Pussy” that any erotic content in the track drains away, to be replaced by a comic momentum that grows with each line. It would also be wrong to suggest that the album lacks sensuous impact: the skeletal beats and slow-grind synth arrangements ooze sexuality, while Kelly remains the most skilled vocal inheritor of Marvin Gaye’s crown, his layered groans coalescing into hypnotic boudoir mantras.
But it’s noteworthy that none of the overtly sexual tracks packs the animated engagement of “Shut Up”, released as a single 2011, in which Kelly hits back at all the haters who predicted his demise when he underwent throat surgery. Perhaps understandably, it’s emotional in a way that the rest of the album isn’t.
Download: Shut Up; Legs Shakin’; Throw This Money on You
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Doctor Who series 9: Jenna Coleman to stay on for whole season as Clara Oswald
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader