Album Reviews

R Kelly – Happy People / U Saved Me

(azeem ahmad) UK release date: 23 August 2004

R Kelly, the Pied Piper, Mr Controversy. Whatever you want to call him, he seems to have the art of selling records by the bucketload down to a tee. So what better to continue the trend than to press a double album? Especially when the double album is actually two different albums, with different titles.

Weatherman introduces the first of the two CDs with the sickening line: “It’s love o’clock.” Oh dear. The lyrical “genius” doesn’t end there, with the description of sunny weather and what Mr Kelly will be wearing down to the details of his linen shirts.

Red Carpet (Pause, Flash) is more self-indulgence talking about “$100,000 on my wrist”. It doesn’t even have a hint of the irony that gangsta rappers pull off when they boast about their bling. It just comes off as raw arrogance, which is confirmed by the rest of the song, which is basically revelling under the watchful gaze of the press.

There is some slight variation in the introduction of Love Street with quite a jazzy bass line, but soon enough the track returns to R Kelly’s fantasy world where everything is perfect. Ladies’ Night isn’t yet another reworking of Kool And The Gang’s erm “classic”. But it is an apparent reworking of every other track on Happy People – it might as well be one continuous beat throughout the album.

The nauseating music doesn’t stop there – far from it. It’s Your Birthday starts off as another smooth R ‘n’ B track but it ends up as a 44 second list of girls’ names followed by “it’s your birthday”. It really isn’t even funny.

If I Could Make The World Dance ends with quite a profound statement, even if the previous 35 minutes or so of torment taint it somewhat, the message being “everyday is a special occasion because you woke up this morning.”

Surely the second album would have to be better? Well 3-Way Phone Call featuring Kelly Price, Kim Burrell and Maurice Mahon gives that impression. U Saved Me is a confessional track discussing drink driving and, despite the preachy feel of it, it’s a palatable offering.

However the album degenerates swiftly, even if rather gracefully into prayer and an offering to God. Frankly, it’s not my cup of tea at all.

For those who are fans of recent R Kelly collaborations (myself included in that category) then the best bet is to buy tracks by the likes of Cassidy and Marcus Houston. This is one collection of songs that really is for diehard fans only. Anyone else should steer clear.

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R Kelly – Happy People / U Saved Me