The R. Kelly Konundrum: Which Version Of “Double Up” Do You Prefer?

May 23rd, 2007 // 12 Comments

rkelly.jpgBeing an R. Kelly fan requires a lot of compartmentalization: In order to fully enjoy his music, you have to block out the lurid and/or absurd realities of his life and his music. For example, you can’t think about his alleged pee-pee sprees when dancing to “Step In The Name Of Love,” and you certainly don’t want to dwell too much on the non-midget lyrics of “Trapped In The Closet,” a song that’s basically a worse-than-usual Tyler Perry movie boiled down to about 40 minutes. But even the most die-hard R.-lover will be tested by Kelly’s soon-to-be-released Double Up album, which leaked over the weekend, and which is absolutely bonkers.

Double Up is so bananas, in fact, that it really needs to be divided into two discs: Disc One would be a fairly sane (though typically eyebrow-raising) collection of the late-night dance tracks and “let’s go back to the room” slow jams that R. Kelly fans have come to know and love, while Disc Two collects the half-dozen or so Up tracks that were recorded in crazytalk. Here’s our hypothetical breakdown:

Disc One
“The Champ”
“Double Up”
“Tryin’ To Get A Number”
“Get Dirty”
“Leave Your Name”
“Freaky In The Club”
“The Zoo”
“I’m A Flirt (Remix)”
“Same Girl”
“Hook It Up”
“Best Friend”

Admittedly, there are a few crazy moments here–especially on “The Zoo,” in which Kelly lets loose wildlife noises and dubs himself a sexosaurus. But that’s a good kind of nutty, and the rest of the tracks are either pretty good or flat-out great (“Same Girl,” “Freaky In The Club”). In theory, this version of Double Up would move 2.5 million before the year’s over, and earn a career-high 8.3 on Pitchfork.

Disc Two
“Real Talk”
“Rock Star”
“Sweet Tooth”
“Havin’ A Baby”
“Sex Planet”
“Rise Up”

Here’s where things go off the rails (“Off The Rails,” by the way, is a yet-to-be-released Kelly track about grotto sex). There’s “Real Talk,” which is essentially a one-sided “fuck you” phone rant between Kelly and an accusatory girlfriend; “Sweet Tooth,” a ballad that finds Kelly claiming that he’s all up in her middle, and “ooh, it tastes like Skittles”; and “Havin’ A Baby,” which incorporates Lamaze-class instructions into the chorus. As for the Ludacris/Kid Rock collaboration “Rock Star” and the unsettlingly too-soon Virgina Tech tribute “Rise Up”…maybe they’re best left off both discs.

That leaves us with “Sex Planet,” which we posted yesterday, and which certainly merits some sort of Library Of Congress recognition for full-on obliviousness. In case you’ve already forgotten, this is the track where Kelly wants to “taste your milky way” and “enter into your black hole.” But it also contains this striking couplet: “Girl I promise this will be painless, painless/We’ll take a trip to planet Uranus, Uranus.”

A line like that–one that invokes a third-grade “Uranus” entendre not once, but twice–is proof that absolutely no one at the label thought it would be a good idea to step in, distract Kelly with a bucket of Hennessy and some co-eds, and hit “delete” on a few tracks. But it also makes Double Up a conflicting experience for his fans, who must decide which side they’re on: Is R. Kelly an eccentric R&B wizard in need of a good editor? Or is he an erratic, increasingly weirded-out horndog who masturbates with a telescope?

Earlier: Leak Of The Day: R. Kelly Shoots Himself Into Space

  1. DavidWatts

    I think the genius of R Kelly is that he has worked his career so he can produce amazing R&B tracks AND totally bonkers shit, both of which he obviously loves. I mean, the man wore a silk Zorro mask for six months and no one batted an eye. He is completely self-actualized.

  2. Ned Raggett

    The only comparison point is Adam Ant circa 1981.

  3. Bazooka Tooth

    R. Kelly belongs in jail.
    And i don’t even want to know what his definition of a “double up” is.

  4. Chris Molanphy

    So basically, this album is one of his 12 Play/”TP”-series records, combined with a dirty version of Happy People/U Saved Me? Eek.

    To be fair, Prince tried to pull off stunts like this in the ’80s, veering from The Black Album to Lovesexy. Sometimes he even pulled a Kells and combined everything on the same record. Anyone listen to Around the World in a Day lately? It’s got one or two of his very, very best singles, cheek-by-jowl with the Prince-talks-to-God-Who-strikes-down-Prince’s-dirty-mind track “Temptation.” I mean, Prince never stooped to, say, overt anal-sex references like Kells, but the sacred-and-wackadoodle combo is, for its time, much the same.

  5. bg5000

    Kels has been doing this kinda shit from the beginning. 12 Play did include “I Like the Crotch on You”.

  6. d

    “Admittedly, there are a few crazy moments here–especially on “The Zoo,” in which Kelly lets loose wildlife noises and dubs himself a sexosaurus.

    Please tell me that isn’t a joke because if it’s not that song will most definitely be my summer jam.

  7. Vince Neilstein

    Trapped in a Closet = one of the great works of our generation! Purely brilliant.

  8. davidm

    Wow, I’ve had that song The Zoo for over a year, and it’s just coming out now?

  9. gorillavsmarykate

    Ugh! Double up UGH! UGH!

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