Eat, Drink & Be Merry! Yes, what we usually call the holiday season has officially come to a close, but we must remember that life itself is a continuous celebration of opportunity and achievement of goals pursued.
As the classic cliche goes, “you must have been underneath a rock for the past 25 years” if you are not well aware that R. Kelly has given us a full catalog of anthems for every celebration of life. Now he returns with delicacies for your delight in what he calls ‘The Buffet!’
The invitation to this carnival of certified hits began in 1992 with a few of his friends called Public Announcement and their debut album titled ‘Born In The 90’s’. During this time the new-jack swing era was in full effect with artists and acts like Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure!, Jodeci and Guy literally beating the radio airwaves down with this unique introduction to the musings of hip-hop and R&B.
Now as Kelly and his cohorts revealed themselves with their debut track, “She’s Got That Vibe” it had just a hint of the new-jack swing pace in its tempo, but more of a groove that immediately let you know that it wasn’t the hyperactive tracks from the eras current popular artists. Yes, the Chicago boys had a little something to prove to the New York boys and their east coast dominance. Kelly and crew knew that you couldn’t lose your soul for the sake of being innovative, although it is sometimes necessary to push towards the future. They proved this with the next two classic hits from ‘Born In The 90’s’ with “Honey Love” and “Slow Dance.” But this was only the invitation to the party we all have had for over 20 years.
Our appetites are wet and now as 1993 rolls around we are just not ready for what is about to be unleashed upon us as Public Announcement becomes a group on its own to later release three albums, but they will forever be famous for bringing us the man we call “The R!” Everyone knows that the opus of Robert Kelly came in the form of his debut solo project entitled, say it with me now, “12 Play!”
If you were between the ages of 15-25 this is the album that woke, invoked and provoked feelings in you that you never had. The first three official singles from the work were “Sex Me”, “Bump N’ Grind” and “Your Body’s Callin’”! If you are currently 20-something you were definitely conceived with this album. Even the up-tempo tracks, “Homie Lover Friend”, “Freak Dat Body” and “Summer Bunnies” prepared you for all you intimate experiences to come. It also sealed the deal of making R. Kelly the artist in R&B to get more acquainted with. Kelly continued to profess his dominance in the 90’s R&B era with hits like “You Remind Me of Something”, “Down Low”, “Thank God It’s Friday” and “I Can’t Sleep Baby”, “I Believe I Can Fly”, “Gotham City”, “Half On A Baby”, and “When A Woman’s Fed Up” from 1995’s self-titled release “R. Kelly” and 1998’s double-album ‘R’.
Enter 2000; the millennium is here and the release of “TP-2.com” is unleashed with an attempt to recapture the intensity of “12 Play”. The most memorable of the official singles were “I Wish”, “Fiesta” and “Feelin’ On Your Booty”. We can’t forget the personal favorites like “Strip For You”, “R&B Thug” and “The Greatest Sex”. But in my opinion this feat wasn’t reached until 2003 when Kells welcomed us into the “Chocolate Factory”! The singles and remixes of it’s official singles “Ignition”, “Snake” and the eternal classic “Step In The Name Of Love” reminded us of why Kells was the pied piper of R&B! For the remainder of the first decade of the new millennium Kells kept a steady pace of hits collaborating with most of the artists he had influenced with the release of four following albums, “Happy People/U Saved Me”, “TP-3 Reloaded”, “Double Up” and “Untitled”. These albums garnered hits like, “Happy People”,”Sex In The Kitchen/Trapped In The Closet 1”, “Same Girl” and “Number One” respectively.
Here comes round two; 2010 is here and probably the smartest move R. Kelly could do in his career at this point is to dedicate a collection of songs that pay tribute to his influences, and what better way to do this than with a “Love Letter”! This throwback collection gave us not only the a lesson in soul music, but also a new appreciation for the genius that is Robert Kelly. This project was received so well that he did it again with “Write Me Back.”. Both of these albums gave us the new classics “When A Woman Loves”, “Love Letter”, “Radio Message”, “Number One Hit”, “Share My Love”, “Feelin’ Single” and “When A Man Lies”.
When 2013 hit Kells dedicated his next project to what hip-hop and R&B had become and the artists who were dominating both genres and unquestionably influenced by him. Keeping in concert with his pied piper status and psychosexual overtones with the emergence of what to dream of when it comes to those “Black Panties” The official singles “My Story”, “Genius”, “Cookie” and “Leg’s Shakin’” are only a taste of the ecstacy filled intoxication that flow from the lips and legs opened on this suite of sweet sin.
Now let’s eat! It’s 2016 and you’re gonna need your spoon, fork and knife to feast on what Kells has prepared you in “The Buffet”! The current singles that have been released let you know that something is definitely cooking Kelly’s kitchen. The appetizers of “Backyard Party” and “Switch Up” featuring Lil’ Wayne are enough to have listeners fighting for a seat at the table. Kelly takes an interesting approach to this edible assortment of compositions that remind us of tracks from Kells’ past as he pushes forward. The metaphoric comedy in “Marching Band” is reminiscent of 1995’s “You Remind Me Of My Jeep”. “Wake Up Everybody” is a Chicago stepping groove that doubles as a suggestive serenade to the after party activities, just as “Happy People”, Step In The Name Of Love” and “Feelin’ Single” did. Everyone knows that The R. is not afraid to beg and he does it like a pro in “Get Out Of Here With Me” and “Keep Searchin” just as he did in a wide array of his hits. He even tackles the blues is its rawest form with “Sufferin”.
Now we don’t want to get you down or too full, because for desert Kells does a few promising collaborations with a few current artists such as Ty Dolla $ign, Jhene Aiko and Tinashe in “Anything Goes”, “Let’s Make Some Noise” and “Let’s Be Real Now”.
We can definitely see that not only R. Kelly’s entire career so far has been the ultimate dining experience, but “The Buffet” will keep new listeners and hard core fans satisfied and sucking their teeth for the next sitting. Bon Appetit’!