I Can't Call It: "Write Me Back" - R. Kelly

Posted On Tuesday, July 3, 2012

You know what I've noticed about people who listen to music? You have people who "claim" they're fans of a certain artist when truth be told, they've never even heard an entire album from them. I say that cuz I've met mad so called R. Kelly fans over the years who say ish like "I love R. Kelly but I wish he made music that wasn't about sex" and I've always been like "huh?" You've never heard my favorite R. Kelly song "Trade In My Life?" (yeah, that's my fave Kells song) Or "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time" "When A Woman's Feed Up" or "Forever?" Or better yet, have you ever REALLY listened to the lyrics to songs like "I Can't Sleep?" And What about "You Saved Me" his gospel album? Oh yeah, I forgot ya'll folk are too saved to listen to Kells sing gospel. See, when folk say stuff like that, that lets me know right then and there you've 9 times outta 10 never heard an actually R. Kelly album.(maybe except fot "12 Play") You've just heard the singles. And if all you've heard is the singles...then you're not a fan. And for me when you're a "fan" of someone, you ride with that person through the ups and downs. Now, don't get it twisted, I'm not talking about the ups and downs of Kell's court case, I'm talking about riding with him through some of these bricks he's been putting up lately like "TP3 Reloaded" and "Double Up." And if ya'll peeped my review of his last album "Love Letters" then you'd know as a whole, I wasn't really feeling it. So it should be no shock that I wasn't anticipating "Write Me Back." I literally woke up one morning and it was in my inbox but even without the anticipation for it, ya'll know I'm gonna check it out right?

First things first, you gotta know that the bulk of "Write Me Back" plays like a soundtrack to black music from the 50's to the 70's so if you're expecting "Bump 'n' Grind Part 2" your assed out over this way. The album sets off with "Love Is" and as soon as the song drops I instantly hear Barry White's "You're My First, My Last, My Everything" in my head which isn't a bad thing while "Feelin' Single" and "Share My Love" give you that "Happy People vibe. "Believe That It's So" takes you to "Songs In the Key of Life" with Stevie, "Fool For You" introduces you to Smokey Robinson and The Miracles while "All Drinks On Me" and "Party Jumpin" take you straight to Big Al's while you're waiting for Fonzi, Richie and Potsy to walk in. "Believe In Me" has Kells getting back to basic and has him explaining to his shorty that he has to roll out but he needs her to hold him down but the gems of the album are "Clipped Wings", "Green Light" and "When A Man Lies." Now THESE are the kinda songs that have made me a R. Kelly fan in the first place. "Clipped Wings" has Kells singing "sunny days, I promised you/life's window pane, with a perfect view/I vowed to love unconditional, to be there with you all season/but I never mean to clip your wings/now I'm wishing you would fly right back to me" while "Green Light" is that R. Kelly slow jam banger that EVERY R. Kelly album needs. On "When A Man Lies" Kells explains that "when a man lies/he pierces the very soul of that woman/when a man lies /he kills every reason she ever had for loving him/mirror, I'm talking to you." Yeah, this is that ole "When A Woman's Fed Up" R. Kelly that's been M.I.A. for a minute.

My main beef with "Write Me Back" is the EXACT same beef I had with Kell's last album "Love Letters" which is he's trying to do the "retro sound" but using keyboards to try to pull it off. And anybody with any sense of the history of black music knows you're not pulling off Chuck Berry or that Motown sound with a bunch of keyboard rack mounts. Halfway through "All Drinks On Me" the saxophone solo that should've been there is played on a keyboard....REALLY? You're trying to do black music from the 50's, 60's and 70's on keyboards...AGAIN?!?!?!  I mean, what's REALLY good? Kell's can't afford a band now? I'll give Kells the same advice I gave him last time, if you wanna do retro...get at Raphael Saadiq, he'll show you how to do retro the RIGHT way. 'Til then, just stick with what you do best and give us "Bump 'n' Grind Part 12" if all you wanna do is use MPC's and Tritons in the studio.

3 outta 5

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