R Kelly’s Tour Through R&B History

When I started the Weekly Music Commentary, I looked forward to certain features that I knew would be special to me for various reasons. Some entertainers would be favorites of mine and therefore very easy to discuss. Others I would identify with because of certain events or life experiences. Nevertheless, this week definitely was one I knew I would cover because of both reasons. You see, I do enjoy listening to R Kelly’s music and also share geographical origins from the south side of Chicago, Illinois.

I have not always appreciated the music of Robert Kelly. In the early stages of his musical career I did not feel I was his target audience. With the grinding ballads and sensual lyrics there was no doubt he was singing directly to a predominantly female audience. Still, through all the “bumping and grinding” all can hear a skilled songwriter working at his craft. It would not be long before other musicians found out that R Kelly was an extremely talented musician and record producer. The list of musicians whom Kelly has produced records for reads like a list of Hall of Fame musicians including Michael Jackson, Mary J Blige, Luther Vandross and last weeks featured artist Aaliyah.

As with most persons who spend many years working within an industry, R Kelly has grown and changed as an artist as he enters his twenty-fourth year in the music business. Kelly continues to write and record songs that expound on the human experience of love, but the most recent two albums “Love Letter” and “Write Me Back” do so to a familiar beat. One person I spoke with said you can hear so many influences from past musicians that it seems like an R&B history lesson.  This is especially the case as you listen to “Write Me Back”. What is very appealing to me about this album is the fact that Kelly still manages to keep producing music the R Kelly way.  He still gives us great songs lyrically like a storyteller of love; good, bad and indifferent. However, R Kelly gives us a tour of R&B music in a pure form as it has been delivered by great artists through many years.  The question now is this: Is this how R Kelly music will sound and be presented during the rest of his career? Good question! I don’t know if R Kelly could answer that question, as creativity is sometimes influenced by a variety of factors. We just have to wait for the next albums and enjoy whatever he brings to the table.

One of the more interesting musical projects of any time has to be R Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet”.  The “hip hopera” as Kelly described it, is a series of songs currently consisting of 33 whole chapters released starting from 2005 to several chapters just released November 2012.  If you have not had the chance to see the DVD of at least the first twenty-two chapters, you are in for an interesting treat to say the least. “Trapped in the Closet” is proof of R Kelly’s talent on display.  Amazingly, R. Kelly took a musical risk but has created something that may separate him even more from many of his contemporaries.  If you are a fan of good R&B music, purchase a copy of “Write Me Back” by R Kelly. Enjoy the R&B history lesson.

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