Sunday, May 04, 2003

Why does R. Kelly make it so difficult to hate him? Don't misunderstand - his personal life, if everything we've heard is true (and I'd place bets it is), is disgusting, and he should be jailed. For a long, long time. The problem is that musically, he can still fire on all cylinders, though perhaps not with his mid-to-late-'90s strike rate (doing anything for B2K does not an accomplishment make). His latest great single is the frankly odd "Laundromat," which he wrote and produced, and on which he duets with rising babydiva Nivea. [Of course, history has shown that once R. duets with a rising female artist, her career generally derails almost immediately. Sparkle, line two please.] It seems to be a fairly disjointed record, though it's possible I'm just missing something. There's something about Nivea being a star or celebrity of some sort, and someone's playing around on someone, and she keeps calling Kelly "Keith." Then the chorus is all about going to the laundromat, complete with ghetto-fab references to "dirty drawers" and food stamps. However, "Laundromat" sounds impeccable, a slowly bubbling old-soul groove peppered with drip-drop water(y) noises, and Nivea possesses an appealingly airy voice which might get caught in a stiff wind and vanish. R. Kelly appears to be around for moral support and lyrical battling, and because, like Pharrell on so many Neptunes productions, he can. If her career amounts to nothing else - and my expectations aren't high - at least Nivea can say she hit it once, even if she does seem to be named after a bottle of hand lotion.

Addendum: Sparkle and R.'s "Be Careful" is one of the greatest lost R&B classics of the '90s, and one of the greatest lost cheatin' classics of all damned time.

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