Album review: R. Kelly, "Black Panties" - Reverb

Album review: R. Kelly, “Black Panties”

Album review: R. Kelly, "Black Panties."

Album review: R. Kelly, “Black Panties.”

R. Kelly could never release another album for the rest of his days and his legacy would be secure.

Not only does he have a plethora of certified hits—most essentially “Ignition Remix,” “Bump And Grind,” “I’m A Flirt” and “I Believe I Can Fly”—but his obscurer works have made him a favorite for irony aficionados. Against common sense, his amazingly ridiculous “Trapped In The Closet” series blew up, growing from 12 to 33 chapters (with another installment on the way) and “Rocky Horror”-esque, prop-throwing sing-alongs around the country.

But the man isn’t satisfied. So today, we get R. Kelly’s 12th solo album, “Black Panties,” his first named after an undergarment if you can believe it. There are no break-out hits on the album—not even an “Echo” or “Pregnant.” Instead, “Black Panties” is more of a soundtrack for a night of sexual exploration.

At least that’s what it hopes to be. Near all the songs on the album give us a glimpse of sex with R. Kelly. Sometimes, it’s pretty vanilla (“All The Way,” with Kelly Roland); sometimes it’s demeaning (“Throw This Money On You”); other times, confounding (“Marry The Pussy”). Considering his back catalogue of lyrical lovemaking descriptions, “Crazy Sex” isn’t as crazy as it is just kinda kooky: “Let’s go Thriller / Let’s act like we lost our motherfuckin’ minds, makin’ crazy faces in the mirror.”

Two tracks keep “Black Panties” from qualifying as a top-to-bottom, hands-free sheet-shaking playlist. First, the obligatory phone skit “Prelude,” which breaks the momentum just three tracks in. The three-minute (!) skit has R. Kelly talking to a friend who’s yelling at his woman for having bad breath. (Natch.) The second is “Shut Up,” where in the midst of an album of almost pure sex music, Kells takes time to talk about his recent surgery, strike back at his detractors and sing “OMG” a handful of times. Talk about ruining the moment.

“Black Panties” is, as he has described it, vintage Kelly, but not the version most of his fans are hoping for. It harkens back to his straight lascivious R&B days, even if few wondered if he still had it in him. It’s another R. Kelly album to make moms blush and heads shake—sometime to the beat, but mostly in amused disbelief. Now that’s classic R. Kelly.

Listen to R. Kelly’s “Black Panties” in full over at Vibe.

Follow our news and updates on Twitter, our relationship status on Facebook and our search history on Google +. Or send us a telegram.

Dylan Owens is Reverb’s all-purpose news blogger and album reviewer. You can read more from him in Relix magazine and the comment sections of WORLDSTARHIPHOP.