R. Kelly’s ‘Write Me Back’ is a return to sender
Published: Monday, July 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 9, 2012 01:07
R. Kelly is best known for three things: scandals involving underage girls, the 1996 single “I Believe I Can Fly” and the epic hip-hop era “Trapped in the Closet” — a 22-chapter song eventually parodied by South Park.
For all his unintentional irony,“Trapped in the Closet” is a testament to how talented R. Kelly can be when he sets his mind to a certain genre.
But R. Kelly’s latest vehicle, “Write Me Back,” did not quite meet the bar.
Since the release of “Trapped in the Closet,” R. Kelly has flown mostly under the radar — releasing several albums of no consequence, save for 2011’s relatively decent “Love Letter,” and all but disappearing from the R&B scene.
“Write Me Back” is not entirely without its inspired moments, but, overall, the album is reminiscent of R. Kelly’s lesser-known albums.
If R. Kelly intended for “Write Me Back” to relaunch a stagnant career, he might find himself disappointed. The album lacks the over-the-top songwriting that made R. Kelly successful in the past, and “Write Me Back” sounds like business as usual.
With mediocre lyrics and cheap orchestrations that sound like they belong in a cheap jazz lounge, R. Kelly plods along in performing the tracks of the album. “All Rounds on Me” sounds like something Justin Timberlake would have recorded in his ’N SYNC days, while tracks such as “Party Jumpin’” and “American Bandstand” seem haphazardly written and performed in a desperate attempt for R. Kelly to remind his listeners that he’s still got it going on.
“Love Is” is a throwback to the soulful sound of the ’60s. The lyrics in “Love Is” are simply awful, leaving the listener to question if this really is the man who once recorded the brilliant “Trapped in the Closet” and the equally inspired “Love Letter.”
“Write Me Back” is not completely void of a decent track, however, and that is found in the track “Green Light.” Here R. Kelly has forgotten his pretensions of the self-awareness that denigrated him as a run-of-the -mill R&B artist in the first place. “Green Light” showcases the best of R. Kelly — the smooth vocals, witty lyricism and the superb chorus.
But as good as “Green Light” is, it still isn’t enough to salvage the wreckage of “Write Me Back.”