The Pied Pi(ss)er of R&B
September 18, 2007 11:29 PM   Subscribe

Despite ongoing legal issues, Robert Sylvester Kelly continues to reign as an icon of commercial rap/r&b. His 'direct' approach to lyrics - that behind the bizarre metaphors and often hilariously tasteless statements that have been the key to his longevity - also shines through in some of his biggest hits. Kelly's piece de resistance, Trapped In the Closet, which recently released 10 new 'chapters,' takes his penchant for crude storytelling to new heights. Featuring love-triangles, -pentagons, and -octagons, not to mention a well-endowed 'midget', the soap-like series is being credited with the creation of a new genre of music video. Not one to let the strange allure of his work speak for itself, Kelly describes TITC as "my alien."
posted by whahappen?! (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Sex in the kitchen, anyone?
posted by whahappen?! at 11:30 PM on September 18, 2007

Don't forget Michael Bell-Smith's excellent video, in which he overlays chapters 1-5 at the same time: Trapped In The Closet All At Once. Youtube, MP4. I saw this at MOMA, and was incredibly enthralled and pleased (really, no sarcasm!).
posted by suedehead at 11:51 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

What finally brought me around to R. Kelly was the remix album done by DJ Screw (purportedly, since it's hard to establish providence on the internet). But by slowing it down, any semblance of seriousness is overwhelmed by the camp—when the car metaphors are overcome by the chorus of "Beep beep," all in an artificial drawl, any resistance I had was overwhelmed.

That all said, I like Trapped in the Closet far more when I'm not watching it. In my mind, it's all a swirl of deranged operatic vision. In my ears, it's all songs that don't make sense and go on too long.
posted by klangklangston at 11:54 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

That Ignition Remix song is just perfect summer fluff. What got me into Kelly was "Fellin' On Your Bootie." It could be a Ween song it's so strange.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:59 PM on September 18, 2007

the video for "same girl" with usher has a TitC feel to it, almost like another chapter, no doubt thanks to R. worth watching the whole thing for the twist, although it's probably better if you see it without knowing there's one. but oh well.

i'm only on chapter 16 and i'm worried about what's gonna become of twan.

if you had told me that i would absolutely love a "hiphopera" that was sired by the creator of "i believe i can fly," i'd have spit in your face, or maybe peed on you.

now, however, i cannot say enough about the towering brilliance R. exhibits with the absurdist camp tour-de-force that is 'trapped in the closet.' you had me at woowoowoo, mr. kelly.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:07 AM on September 19, 2007

R. Kelly's transformation into the Weird Al of R&B was so gradual that if you weren't paying atttention, you might have missed it. His latest album, Double Up, is so mind bogglingly insane, that I pretty much have no choice but to assume that it is his intention to make me laugh so hard milk comes out of my nose.

Musically speaking, Kelly is on top of his game. The tracks on his new album are phenomenal. If he re-released it as an instrumental, without the "sex planet" lyrics (yes, he went with the obvious Uranus reference) I would buy it in a second.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:25 AM on September 19, 2007

Love me some R. Kelly, but any internet FPP should surely link to bittorrents of his home-filmed underage sex exploits?

OK, maybe not. I love me some Trapped in the Closet though. It just sounds like one enormous song that goes on and on interminably. And one of the very best things about R&B are the weirdly trite rhyming couplets, and R. Kelly's got a million of them.

Gonna check out episodes 13 to 22 ASAP.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:26 AM on September 19, 2007

Pure garbage... i'm unable to find anything close to artistic or entertainment value at all in any of this TitC business.

When i saw that IFC picked up the second ball of crap, i almost threw up.

Mothers, don't let your children grow up to be R. Kelly.
posted by phylum sinter at 3:43 AM on September 19, 2007

(spoken)Yeah, It's the R
40 ounces of malt liquor make me wanna tell you somethin'...

See i'm rollin' around sittin' on dubs,
cat 'n now(?) I was high on shrubs.
Coolin' in my escalade...
Man, I'm paid, I got it made

Take me to your special place
Close your eyes,
show me your face...
I'm gonna piss on it.

Hatas wanna hate,
Lovas wanna love,
I don't even want
None of the above.
I want to piss on you.
Yes I do,
I'll piss on you
I'll pee on you.

See your body,
your body,
is a Port-O-Potty
and a pee I'd kick.
like it most erotic.

I'ma pee on you..
pee on you,
all on you.
piss on you, piss on you.

You would never feel quite the same
when you get a whiff of my hershey stains

I wanna poop on you, too.
I want to pee on yo food.

Only thing that makes my life complete,
is when I turn yo face into a toilet seat.
I want to pee on you,
Yes I do, yes I do
I'll pee on you, I'll piss on you

Hatas wanna hate,
Lovas wanna love,
I don't even want
none of the above.
I want to piss on you.
Yes I do
I'll piss on you,
I'll pee on you.

Won't you braid my hair?
So, won't you braid my hair?
Before you start,
I'm gonna fart.
I'm gonna fart on you

posted by psmealey at 4:18 AM on September 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

Ha. The Ignitino (Remix) Wiki page is amusing.
posted by smackfu at 5:58 AM on September 19, 2007

Conicidentally, I watched the first 12 chapters of Trapped in the Closet for the first time last night. On first blush I think it's a smart, original piece of work, and I think that laughing at its seeming veneer of amateurishness misses the point somewhat.

The narrative doesn't make logical sense, and his characters don't behave as humans normally do, but you could say the same thing about Wagner's Ring Cycle. Kelly's making the choice to sacrifice narrative logic in favor of musical cadences--however, since the severe restrictions of his chosen form* require him to come up with a cadence every three to four minutes, he has to use increasingly inventive ways of selling them. Sometimes the twist that accompanies the cadence is completely out of left field (the appearance of the midget, which he sets up well in advance by introducing a character named Bridget in a previous chapter); sometimes it isn't much of a twist at all, and he knows it (see the appearance of Rosie the nosey neighbor), which is why he so transparently tries to sell it to you with thirty seconds' worth of melismas. So the suspense isn't tied only to finding out what's going to happen next to the characters, but to how he's going to change up his formula while still staying within his self-prescribed limitations.

And there are so many little bits of vocal comedy scattered through it--the moment in chapter 5 where he starts to censor his dialogue, but actually sings the beeps, and then seemingly gets tired of it and gives up; the part of chapter 12 where the backing track is stripped out altogether and he sings an argument between three people.

Last night I came across this article basically claiming that the pleasures of watching Trapped in the Closet are similar to the pleasures of watching Ed Wood movies, but I don't think that gives Kelly nearly enough credit. Compare this NYT article that discusses whether Kelly is aware of what he's doing.

I don't know much about R. Kelly's other music, but I'm willing to listen to Trapped in the Closet for as long as he's willing to tell the shaggy-dog story that it is.

*Here I'm seeing his use of the same backing track in each chapter as a self-imposed restriction, not as a sign of a lack of inventiveness. Compare this to comics that use the same art in every episode, changing only the dialogue--David Lynch's The Angriest Dog in the World, or Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics.
posted by Prospero at 5:59 AM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

To quote estero:
A grown man can rape a little girl but we
Still hear his shit on the radio
A grown-ass man can videotape a little girl but we
Still see his mug up on our video screens
And Kelly's most awesome song is Real Talk.
how the fuck she knew I was with them other girls then
when the whole club packed wait a minute let me finish what I've got to say
i've been with you five years and you listening to your motherfucking girlfriends
I dont know why you fuck with them all jealous no man havin ass hoes anyway
real talk
posted by chunking express at 6:25 AM on September 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

Boy it's tough. I think R. Kelly is vile and won't listen to his music but TITC is a work of art. I must thank the poster over in AskMefi who tipped us off to the TITC marathon on IFC a couple of weeks ago. I predict in a few years TITC will be studied in film classes like Citizen Kane. It is sickly brilliant. Can't wait for R. to bring us some more chapters in this beyond convoluted tale.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:36 AM on September 19, 2007

The first time I saw TiTC, it blew my mind. I happened to flip to VH-1 when they were airing a marathon of the first 12 episodes, and it was around episode 7 or so. I was completely blown away by how surreal the whole thing was. Then the best part was that in between the chapters, they had "Real World" style confessional interviews with the actors... IN CHARACTER. It was totally bizarre.

"Yeah, man, when that dude pulled out his gun, that shit was off the hook!"
"When he came home, I was so scared. What if he found me with another man?!"

I briefly owned the DVD, but unfortunately it didn't have the interviews. I'm waiting for the Criterion collection of the whole thing.
posted by papakwanz at 7:37 AM on September 19, 2007

R. Kelly is so Advanced it borders on the ludicrous. For instance, in his "I'm a Flirt" (Remix), a song in which he indicates how unfortunately he is going to fuck your girlfriend--

"She be callin' me Daddy, and I be callin' her Mommy
She be callin' you Kelly, When your name is Tommy"

posted by haveanicesummer at 12:05 PM on September 19, 2007

And he's got a little dick
posted by Smedleyman at 2:48 PM on September 19, 2007

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