Untitled, R. Kelly
Credit: Anthony Mandler


Over the course of 10 supremely libidinous albums, R&B’s self-?proclaimed sexasaurus has endlessly explored the hows, whens, and whoas of his bedroom theater, leaving no satin pillow unturned. (In real life, he was acquitted of child-pornography charges last year after a lengthy court case.) That singular focus has yielded a string of undeniable jams, from 1995’s ”Bump ‘n Grind” to 2003’s ”Ignition.” It’s also defined him as an artist who seldom ventures beyond carnal come-ons, with the occasional corrective blast of holy-rolling inspirational balladry (see 1996 smash ”I Believe I Can Fly” and the bizarro-world Celine Dion duet ”I’m Your Angel”).

Untitled‘s titles — ”Pregnant,” ”Whole Lotta Kisses,” and (yes) ”Bangin’ the Headboard” — don’t do much to flip the script, or even write a new page. It’s not entirely clear what level of parody and self-awareness the man behind the gloriously absurd 2005 hip-hopera ”Trapped in the Closet” is operating on these days; the disconsolate ballad ”Elsewhere” seems to signal a chastened man, but tracks like ”Number One,” featuring Keri Hilson, and ”Text Me” revel in sex as Olympic sport. (The oft-neglected art of yodeling does get an unexpected boost on the butterscotch seduction “Echo.”) Kelly fares better when he steps up the tempo, as on new-jack stomper ”Supaman High,” Usheresque ? club rave-up ”I Love the DJ,” and disco-boogie squiggle ”Be My #2,” even if ? none feel exactly organic to his style. ? You can take the man out of the boudoir, but you’ll have to drag him. C+

Download This: Listen to the song Be My #2

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