R. Kelly

TP.3 Reloaded

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Could anything be more artistically liberating than 30-plus charges of child pornography? R. Kelly probably doesn't think so. Since his 2002 indictment, he has become increasingly prolific, ambitious, and bold (i.e., bonkers). On 2004's mostly excellent Happy People/U Saved Me, he temporarily shed his sex-freak persona, yet he caught heat for the stage production used during a disastrous tour with Jay-Z. Among many other issues, a backdrop of drizzling liquid looked like a golden shower to some people -- in light of the alleged sex tape that circulated -- but Kelly's handlers claimed it was honey. Either way, it became impossible to think that Kelly wasn't, in some way, exploiting his predicament. He continues to do just that on TP.3 Reloaded, released just weeks before his trial. "Girl, I'm ready to toss your salad!" an excited line from "In the Kitchen," could be seen as a response to Chris Rock, who riffed on the sex tape during his Never Scared standup special and made a point to marvel at the male's enthusiastic oral performance on one particular end of the female's alimentary canal. Kelly has made it explicitly clear: whatever you throw at him will come back in an equally scandalous fashion. Thematically opposite to Happy People/U Saved Me, the first hour of TP.3 is mostly about getting rowdy and getting it on, full of some of the clumsiest and lewdest lyrics Kelly has written, a few of which are extreme enough to be parody-proof ("Lead me to your secret jungle," etc.). Funniest of all is "Kickin' It With Your Girlfriend," where Kelly apologizes to his woman for cheating on her, says he didn't mean to cause pain, proceeds to tell her about all about the affair, and in a roundabout way suggests that it's her fault for allowing him to cross paths with her girlfriend. With one or two exceptions, all of these songs are second and third rate by his standard. And so, in an apparent move to deflect long-running criticisms that his songs have no depth, he has crafted a ten-chapter saga titled "Trapped in the Closet" -- a rolling narrative inspired by radio plays that doesn't contain a single vocal hook. The first five chapters conclude the album. Over a plain arrangement that swells with each rise in the action, including that overused liquid-drip sound effect, Kelly weaves a tangled tale that he says is a "ghetto Desperate Housewives." Its over-the-top dramatics, unlikely actions, and inexplicable non-actions place it closer to Melrose Place. For instance, despite the gun in his hand, the antsy protagonist fails to bail from the heated standoff with his paramour and her on-the-down-low pastor-husband. He pulls a Michael Mancini; he stays put. None of this means that "Trapped in the Closet" isn't entertaining or eventful, even if it's an event mostly due to the maker. These first five chapters made a big impact on radio and spurred lots of debate and analysis, and they'll deflect attention away from TP.3's otherwise trivial nature. [Some copies of the album came with a DVD containing the longform video for the first five chapters of "Trapped in the Closet."]

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick