R Kelly Chocolate Factory Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Despite the most suspect of titles, R Kelly appears to have pulled off one of the most...

Jack Smith 2003

Naming your album Chocolate Factory in the midst of a child pornography scandal might not be the wisest decision, especially with all the youthful connotations associated with the children's classic. Rehashing the phrase 'come to daddy' and referring to ones self as the ' Pied Piper of R&B' is equally naïve at best, brazen at worst. R-Kelly is guilty of all the above but has still managed to pull off one of the most relevant musical offerings of the current millennium.

Kelly has made a concentrated effort here to move away from the formulaic (not a Neptunes track in earshot) and has tailored an organic blend of soul, gospel, blues and salsa. In addition he single-handedly serves as writer, producer and arranger.

Old-school receives a thorough dusting down and is presented as brand sparkling new on this monster 16 track CD that, also offers listeners 5 bonus cuts from the neglected Loveland project, bootlegged to extinction in 2002.

Musically, the album reunites all the soul greats into one delectable platter. For Marvin, take a listen to the seductive groove of the 'Step In The Name Of Love'. In tribute to Stevie's musical experimentation, take a spin of the Latin inspired 'Snake'. It's apparent that the troubled star has found a happy medium to create a release, the joyous screams are frequent;he doesn't sound like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, but a revived soul in spiritual euphoria.

However, the tempo skips the blissful beat on several tracks, most notably, the autobiographical 'Heaven I Need A Hug'. This emotive track will provide many a talking point for those who crave celebrity fodder as Kelly presents the proverbial middle finger to the media and detractors alike.

Sexual connotations aside, we can only hope that like the 'Pied Piper' R-Kelly's 7th studio album will indeed set a new precedence and assist R&B back on the right path of creating classic, non-disposable, music for the soul.

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