TP.3 Reloaded

Studio Album by released in 2005
TP.3 Reloaded's tracklist:
Playa's Only (feat. The Game)
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Happy Summertime (feat. Snoop Dogg)
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Sex in the Kitchen
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Slow Wind
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Put My T-Shirt On
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Remote Control
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Kickin' It With Your Girlfriend
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Reggae Bump, Bump (feat. Elephant Man)
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Touchin' (feat. Nivea)
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Girls Go Crazy (feat. Birdman)
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Hit It Till the Morning (feat. Twista and Do or Die)
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Sex Weed
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(Sex) Love Is What We Making
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Burn It Up (feat. Wisin & Yandel)
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Trapped in the Closet Chapter 1
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Trapped in the Closet Chapter 2
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Trapped in the Closet Chapter 3
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Trapped in the Closet Chapter 4
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Trapped in the Closet Chapter 5
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TP.3 Reloaded review

Urban R&B producer/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter R. Kelly and his supporting band Public Announcement began recording in 1992 at the tail end of the new jack swing era, yet he was able to keep much of its sound alive while remaining commercially successful. While he created a smooth, professional mixture of hip-hop beats, soul-man crooning, and funk, the most distinctive element of R. Kelly's music is its explicit carnality. In February 2002 the Chicago Sun-Times reported that it had been given a videotape showing R. Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. When the scandal broke, other similar reports surfaced. Some radio stations dropped him from their play lists, and anti-Kelly protests were staged in Chicago. Could anything be more artistically liberating than 30-plus charges of child pornography? R. Kelly probably doesn't think so. Since his 2002 indictment, he has become increasingly prolific, ambitious, and bold. On 2004's mostly excellent Happy People/U Saved Me, he temporarily shed his sex-freak persona, yet he caught heat for the stage production used during a tour with Jay-Z. It became impossible to think that R. Kelly wasn't, in some way, exploiting his predicament. He continues to do just that on TP.3 Reloaded, released just weeks before his trial.

TP.3 Reloaded is one of those albums where every song sounds like a radio single. R. Kelly cruises through genres like he's giving a guided tour, hitting crunk, dancehall, hip-hop, reggaeton, and naturally, a handful of bedroom ballads along the way. Production work is minimal, guest stars pay deference to their album host, and the entire album puts R. Kelly, his malleable voice, and his considerable persona center stage. TP.3 Reloaded finds him lecturing on his favorite topic: sex. Thematically opposite to Happy People/U Saved Me, the first hour of TP.3 Reloaded is full of some of the clumsiest and lewdest lyrics R. Kelly has written. With one or two exceptions, all of these songs are second and third rate by his standard. And so, in an apparent move to deflect long-running criticisms that his songs have no depth, he has crafted a ten-chapter saga titled Trapped in the Closet – a rolling narrative inspired by radio plays that doesn't contain a single vocal hook. The first five chapters conclude the album. Over a plain arrangement that swells with each rise in the action, R. Kelly weaves a tangled tale that he says is a "ghetto Desperate Housewives."

Fortunately, there's enough gold buried in TP.3 Reloaded worth digging for: Happy Summertime is a laid-back dream meetup of world-class sing-rappers, R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg. Kelly's catchy cadence keeps him afloat on the Missy-like Reggae Bump, Bump with Elephant Man or the martial reggaeton of Burn It Up. Most likely to score the summer's barbecues are the straight hip-hop numbers: Playas Only, featuring The Game, is already dominant, and Hit It Till the Morning, with its itchy beats and rudimentarily effective Twista appearance, is waiting on deck.

Is R. Kelly a joke or a genius? Does he really expect us to forget his recent... unpleasantness, or does he just not care what we think? Given the charges against him, how is he still recruiting A-list guest stars? How many metaphors for sex can one man think up? What’s up with that album cover? R. Kelly is surrounded by more question marks than the Riddler, and probably all the baggage, mysteries, and moral quandaries make for a thick slice on the pie chart of R. Kelly enjoyment. The difficult part, then, is clearing away all that brush to get to the music, which is one reason he's the current king of R&B: for all the absurdity of his Trapped in the Closet cycle and his endless stock of creative horniness, he is an absolute master of his medium.