Album: Chocolate Factory

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Album:

Chocolate Factory

Artist: R. Kelly
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Genres:
Label: Jive

Perhaps R. Kelly’s brushes with the law have caused him to turn down his love light, since his seventh album Chocolate Factory takes scrupulous pains to show an idealized high-minded face of love, eschewing his usual steamy cocktail of raunchy lust and replacing it with a sweet, winsome romanticism. “I’ll Never Leave,” is a wistful valentine, while “The Heart of a Woman,” is embarrassingly empathetic to the plight of the feminine kind and is hardly the kind of fare that one expects from Marvin Gaye’s heir apparent. Despite his real life racy escapades,…

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Perhaps R. Kelly’s brushes with the law have caused him to turn down his love light, since his seventh album Chocolate Factory takes scrupulous pains to show an idealized high-minded face of love, eschewing his usual steamy cocktail of raunchy lust and replacing it with a sweet, winsome romanticism. “I’ll Never Leave,” is a wistful valentine, while “The Heart of a Woman,” is embarrassingly empathetic to the plight of the feminine kind and is hardly the kind of fare that one expects from Marvin Gaye’s heir apparent. Despite his real life racy escapades, Kelly is at his best musically when he’s an unrepentant bad boy but he doesn’t even show any grit until “Been Around the World,” his confessional duet with a rasping Ja Rule, the fretful bluesy “You Made Me Love You,” and “Ignition,” a paean to parking. Despite “Ignition”’s first line, “Girl, please let me stick my key in your ignition, babe” it’s rather tame by the standards Kelly has set on his earlier discs. “Chocolate Factory” also includes 6 bonus tracks from Loveland the album that was slated for a 2002 release, but was ostensibly shelved after it was rampantly bootlegged on the Internet. Despite the disc’s soft focus, Kelly is at the height of his vocal powers, and once he weans himself from the gooey sentimentality and returns to his persona of a smooth seductive operator he’ll once again be an artist to be reckoned with. —Jaan Uhelszki

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