First things first, I’m writing this review as a music lover. Not as a father of a 5 year old daughter. Not as a someone who runs after school programs in SE Washington DC helping our youth. Not as a prosecutor or judge, just as a music lover. Had to get that out the way before the “how can you support R Kelly comments” came pouring in. Now with that out the way, we’ve got a new R Kelly album on deck. Can anyone believe that R Kelly is up to his 17th (remix albums & greatest hits albums included) studio album? Crazy right? And all the while on the SAME label!
So what R Kelly are we getting this time around? The freaky “You Remind Me” R Kelly? The dramatic “Trapped in the Closet” R Kelly? The inspirational “I Believe I Can Fly” R Kelly? Or maybe the steppin’ “Step in the Name of Love” R Kelly? Well, Kell’snew album “Love Letters” is like a mix of “Happy People” and “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time.” (off the double album “The R”) The album plays as a mixture between both styles. Songs like “How Do I Tell Her”, “Love Is” featuring K Michelle and “Music Must Be A Lady” fill the “If I Can Turn Back the Hands of Time lane”. The only problem I have with these are how are you gonna try to capture the sounds of 60’s and 70’s soul music with plug ins and sounds outta keyboards and sound modules and not live instruments? Kells should of stopped down to the Studio in Philly and checked my man Larry Gold to get some live string arrangements. And songs like “Just Can’t Get Enough”, “Just Like That”, “Lost In Your Love” and “Not Feeling Your Love” are in the “Happy People” lane. The only problem for me is I’m not a fan of the “Happy People”/”Step in the Name of Love” R Kelly so I’m kinda left out in the cold on these jawns, but if that’s the lane you like Kells in, then this album is mos def for you.
At the end of the day, “Love Letters” is cool to me but maybe the timing of it is all wrong for me. I’m over the whole “throwback” music of new artist sounding like the 60’s and 70’s. I’m wondering what’s next? Is Nas’ new album gonna have him rapping like Run DMC over rock guitar beats as a tribute to 80’s hip hop? I’d rather see music move forward, then move backwards cause like I always say, I’d rather hear Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye then listen to R Kelly try to do them both. I can understand an artist wanting to pay tribute to the music they love or grew up on but at this point, it’s been done to death! Let’s get a NEW R Kelly album, not R Kelly plays the oldies. But don’t get me wrong, the album isn’t bad, in fact it’s a nice feel good album. But for me this is more background music than anything. If you’re having a get together at the crib, playing spades or putting up this Christmas tree with the fam, throw it on and people will be nodding their heads and enjoying the vibe, it’s just not something that’s gonna stay in my rotation.
3.5 outta 5