Albert Einstein, J.F.K., Robert Sylvester Kelly; all men of vision and accomplishment. Am I serious? More than I’d like to admit. R. Kelly has reached a level of R&B status unattainable by mere mortals; he is undoubtedly one of the most prolific hit-making machines of all time. He could read a Chinese takeout menu, in Chinese, and it’d top the charts, and when he does remember you read it here first. Kelly continues to work his melodic magic on Double Up, an album that rides the razor-thin line between genius and insanity. R. Kelly has …
DJBooth Album Review
Kelly continues to work his melodic magic on Double Up, an album that rides the razor-thin line between genius and insanity. R. Kelly has three basic styles he uses for all of his songs, so let’s use them to guide us through Double Up’s twists and turns. As always there’s some overlap between categories, but the basics remain the same.
He could write these songs in his sleep. They all go like this: see girl in the club, blind girl with jewels, take girl home and perform any number of possibly illegal sexual acts. The songs are never complicated, but Kelly’s incredible ear for melody turns them into audio crack. The title track Double Up is a perfect example. The music’s built around a sped-up vocal sample, the beat claps hard, and Kelly puts together a vocoded ode to threesome freakiness. Be prepared to have it in your head for approximately the rest of your life, and we haven’t even got into the Snoop Dogg guest verse yet. Equally addictive is Tryin To Get A Number, a more banging track that has Kelly adopting some St. Louis flair with Nelly. Its bass heavy beat is more hip-hop than R&B and it’s definitely ringtone ready, I’ll be shocked if it’s not a single. The question is would you give Kelly your number? On the plus side he’s rich and famous, but on the down side you might get peed on. Hmmm…
Kelly’s street side is full of vibrating bass and riding synth hooks. The breakout track on Double Up is Rockstar, a heavy metal infused club banger complete with a thrashing guitar solo produced by Just Blaze. Ludacris lays down a dope-as-always verse and even Kid Rock shows up to do…something, I’m assuming he plays guitar. It’s sure as hell not a slow jam, but it’s not thug. R. Kelly just can’t really pull off gangsta. He’s more interested in freakin’ than trappin’, so he needs to bring in some grit along the lines of Young Jeezy. Unfortunately Go Getta’s not on the album, and neither is anything else as good. Kelly tries to go it alone on the track Rollin, but despite the slappin beat and anthem chorus it just doesn’t work. For all the talk of Double Up being a hip-hop album it’s still closer to TP3 than Illmatic.
Kelly occasionally writes songs so unbelievably ridiculous they make you question reality. At this point a friend could call and say, “did you hear the new R. Kelly song, it’s about unicorns having oral sex?” and I’d probably believe him. The Pied Piper doesn’t disappoint on Double Up. We’ll start with the track Sex Planet, an intergalactic exploration of horniness. Let’s just say Kelly wants to “taste your milky way,” on “a trip to planet Uranus.” You can’t make this stuff up. More importantly The Zoo is now the most ridiculous song of all-time. Kelly softly croons “I’m your sexosaurus,” while monkey sound effects play in the background. It’d be easy to dismiss Kelly as juvenile, except The Zoo is actually an expertly written song (minus the lyrics). He’s too good to be joking, too bad to be serious. Either way I’m fascinated.
I could write a novel about Double Up, there’s just too much to cover: the R&B super- collaboration Same Girl with Usher, the smash hit (I’m A Flirt Remix,), even a surprisingly touching memorial to the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings called Rise Up. Double Up may not be Kelly’s best work, but it’s got more than enough to satisfy. I’ll leave you with this thought, courtesy of the man himself: “it’s like a jungle atmosphere, and we’re two monkeys baby.” God I love R. Kelly.
Listen to More: R. Kelly Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Thats That ft. R. Kelly" (2006)
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