A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Staff Picks Newswire
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

R. Kelly: Chocolate Factory

-

R. Kelly

Album: Chocolate Factory
Label: Jive

Community Grade (2 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade

?

Is it possible to listen to a double-disc, 100-minute treatise on sex from a man accused of sleeping with adolescent girls, and not be disgusted? That's the central question behind Chocolate Factory, R. Kelly's first album since widely publicized child-pornography allegations threatened his standing both as a free man and as one of pop's biggest stars. Kelly already fired a volley back at his detractors in the form of "Heaven I Need A Hug," a remarkable state-of-R. Kelly address that ricochets from self-pity to anger to self-righteousness–among many other contradictory emotions and attitudes–over the course of a five-minute pop song. The prototypical R&B lover-man, Kelly has apparently never encountered a sentiment too trite or an expression of love too clichéd to be put to use. Chocolate Factory is filled with the sort of come-ons and honeyed promises that even cut-rate dive-bar lotharios would dismiss as hopelessly cheesy, but Kelly stitches them together with such craft and invests them with such conviction that they become a strange sort of pulp poetry. On Midnite Vultures, the ever-mutable Beck reinvented himself as a sort of Dada bizarro-world R. Kelly, but Beck could never do Kelly as well as Kelly does. Take "Ignition (Remix)," an early candidate for the year's guiltiest pleasure: Kelly promises "Cristal popping in a stretch Navigator / We got food everywhere, as if the party was catered" and marvels, "You must be a football coach, the way you got me playing the field." Kelly panders to his audience with each note, but the singer, songwriter, and producer matches his shamelessness with a gift for crafting melodies that burrow their way into listeners' subconscious with almost sadistic force. He's also an underrated traditional soul man: On "Dream Girl," "You Knock Me Out," "What Do I Do," and "Far More," he does retro-soul every bit as well as more critically fashionable acts like D'Angelo and Bilal. Anyone who buys Chocolate Factory out of morbid curiosity is bound to end up with a new sense of appreciation and respect for an underrated artist.