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‘Black Panties’ is a goodbye letter to all things subtle

December 20, 2013

 

– Photo courtesy of Jive Records

– Photo courtesy of Jive Records

JOHN SADLER
Features Editor

 

I was going to start this review with how much innuendo is in R. Kelly’s new album, “Black Panties.”

 

Innuendo would imply subtlety, however.

 

I was going to give an example of some of the ridiculous lyrics present on the album, but I could not find any fit to print.

 

Two of the album’s tracks have similarly unprintable titles. One of them entails R. Kelly’s marriage proposal to a certain part of his female companion’s anatomy.

 

In short, this is not a family album, nor is it one easily reviewed in a family newspaper. It is, however, an enjoyable listen, if an inconsistent one.

 

To like the album, you will have to be pretty entrenched in the R. Kelly camp and have a love for his over-the-top, borderline obscene lyrics.

 

R. Kelly – Black Panties – Rating 2 of 5 stars.

R. Kelly – Black Panties – Rating 2 of 5 stars.

If you are deep-seated in the aforementioned camp, this album is essential listening, as it takes a departure from the more serious tone of his past two albums for a throwback to the ‘90s R. Kelly everybody loved (or loved to hate).

 

“Cookie” is my favorite track on the album. Like most songs on “Black Panties,” it is R. Kelly’s ode to a one-night stand.

 

Like most songs on the album, the track is metaphor laden. We are talking about R. Kelly, so the metaphors are thinner than a sheet of paper.

 

One of the few times that R. Kelly stops his onslaught of verses that seem to all be crafted toward more explicit proclamations toward women is on the song “Shut Up.”

 

“Shut Up” is a trash-talking track that serves as a blow to R. Kelly’s doubters. Referencing the throat surgery he went through in 2011, he thanks his fans for not forgetting him during his rougher times and bashes those who he said brought “a tsunami of rumors that could wash my career away.”

 

Featured on the album are rappers 2 Chainz, Ludacris and Young Jeezy, who each deliver perfectly fine, but entirely forgettable verses that stick to the album’s prevailing subject matter.

 

Kelly Rowland, former member of Destiny’s Child, also makes an appearance on the track “All The Way.” In the song, which appears halfway through the album, she (somewhat prophetically) croons,“we’re past the limit and there ain’t no turning back now.”

 

These features do not add very much to the album. The performers seem to be kept on a very short leash in order to fit with R. Kelly’s nymphomaniac vision for his album.

 

As a whole, the album is a fairly mixed affair combining ‘90s classic R&B production with R. Kelly’s trademark risqué lyrics.

 

The lyrics, while certainly attention-grabbing, are the album’s main shortcoming. The danger of making an album that focuses on one theme, especially when that theme is ultimately asinine, is that it gets boring. The 18 songs on the album are all so similar in construct and content that they could just be one long track.

 

R. Kelly seems to have firmly, and without any reservations, jumped on board with the joke. Only time will tell if this makes the joke funnier, or ruins it.

 

Email comments to jts040@latech.edu.

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