Music » It's Who You Know

It's Who You Know

"Trapped In the Closet"

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Speaking of alleged celebrity pedophiles still on the loose: have you guys been paying attention to R. Kelly lately? As you may have heard, ol' golden showers has been hard at work preparing for the July 5th release of TP.3 Reloaded, his 10th full-length. What's so specifically remarkable about the lead-up to TP.3 has been Kelly's slow circulation over the past month of an epic song called "Trapped In the Closet"--a five-part, sequentially released "urban operetta" packed with enough ridiculous melodrama to fill an entire episode of Passions. It's also perhaps R. Kelly's greatest single stroke in a career of deeply insular, near-transcendental, idiotic genius.

The possible reasons why Robert "innocent until proven guilty" Kelly should surely not be celebrated are far too great to squeeze into a 400-word column (19 of the 33 child pornography counts have been quietly dropped, by the way), so for the sake of space let's turn our attention to the man's finer qualities--nowhere better illustrated than within "Trapped In the Closet"'s 16-plus minutes of infidelity, intrigue, idiocy, and indefensibly bad--and thus somehow utterly brilliant--lyrics. The charms of Kelly's artless, incredibly over-reaching genius have long been recognized, most recently on the guy's ultra-mega jam "Ignition (Remix)"--a song that finds Kelly comparing his lady love to a football coach and a car (not to mention a vague allusion to Angela Lansbury), with perfect sincerity.

Envisioning himself as an heir to idols like Al Green and Prince, Kelly's maddeningly lowbrow conceptual artistry has been, until now, difficult to fully embrace in earnest, but all bets are off with "Closet." Its five tremendously silly chapters, set to virtually identical, violently crescendoing instrumentals, feature Kelly's patented sing-speak style covering artless poetry like: "Ho, I should have known/that you would go and do some bogus shit up in my house!" I mean, "bogus shit?!?!" (The most mind-blowing lyrical achievement of "Closet," however, goes to this gem: "Then she cries out, 'Oh my goodness, I'm about to climax!'/And I said, 'Cool, Climax. Just let go of my leg!'") Kelly has long played the troubled, brilliant eccentric, but with "Trapped In the Closet," he finally backs it all up--marrying the nonsensical with the awkwardly conversational in a way that seems not only fully intentional, but also fully necessary. It's as simple as it is impenetrable. And it's brilliant. Child pornography charges, Jay-Z's entourage, reason--apparently nothing can stop R. Kelly.

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