As I said on the first episode of the Roseandcast podcast, I have an unnatural love for R. Kelly. I don’t know how real it is in all honesty, but I know almost all of the words to about 30’something of his songs, which is more than most people could even ever name. My fandom and friend famous “R, Kelly playlist” continue to be a running joke among those who know me personally. I’m not an R. Kelly super-fan though, I know my limits. I only really enjoy one of his fourteen albums all the way through, and I’ve never seen him concert, though I would love to, but I can’t act like he’s not a “musical genius.” He wrote thirty-three chapters of Trapped In the Closet and he’s not even done yet. For every decent or almost lyrically un=listenable R. Kelly album however, there’s always one ot two songs, or if you’re lucky half, that are just really fantastic.
My favorite part about R. Kelly though isn’t his vocal chops, it’s his ego. It’s different than the other famous ego’s of Kanye West or Donald Trump. Equally amusing, but less in your face, less “I’m the voice of our generation,” or “I want to be president,” the latter of which has been spoken by both. R. Kelly’s ego is still “I’m the best at music,” but he utilizes it differently than Kanye’s. R. Kelly isn’t out to make “sonic paintings” or change the face of music forever. Not to pick on Kanye West, I’m a huge fan of his music, but his ego gets in the way a lot, especially more recently. R. Kelly will say whatever he wants too, and his lyrics get more blunter and blunter as his album’s progress. You’d think it would be the opposite for a father approaching his fifties, but if you heard “Cookie” or “Marry the Pussy” from 2013’s Black Panties, than you were surprised as I was to hear that he could get even more explicit than Untitled‘s “Pregnant” or “Sex Planet.”
R. Kelly apparently wrote 462 songs for The Buffet, all of which are “hits,” but only thirteen tracks exist here on the record. If I was R.Kelly, I’d release three 25-track albums a year, in the style of Lil B or E-40. That would cover him for the next four years and make his internet presence insane – like, “you seein’ what R. Kelly’s been doin’?” But here on The Buffet, R. Kelly doesn’t begin with one of those songs, he starts with a poem. It’s about food, as if his interview with Rolling Stone where he sung “Italian Hero Sandwich of Love,” somehow inspired him to make a whole food themed album. The Buffet is pretty raunchy, stretching the limits of what I can listen to. Regardless, R. Kelly’s production and vocals are always surprisingly impressive, and his sexual innuendo puns are just amazing.
The real hits here are “Backyard Party,” one of maybe a handful of his songs that have no sexually themed lyrics, the hilarious “Marching Band,” and “Switch Up (feat. Lil Wayne & Jeremih),” basically the only ones released as singles as it turns out. Where I can’t listen to trap rappers or rappers that don’t say anything and actively promote drugs and the “party gangster life,” for some reason R. Kelly’s version is alright with me. Whether it’s because it’s more melodic or because his songs are and have always been R&B sex songs, it comes from the same place of enjoyment as trap rap comes to trap rap fans. It’s hypocritical and guilty pleasure, but I can say I’m an R. Kelly fan without fear.