Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

R. Kelly 

Happy People/U Saved Me (Jive)

It's an unspoken rule in American life that another man's faith is not to be challenged, even that of an accused pedophile following the long R&B tradition of spiritual and sexual conflict. Yet unlike last year's fascinating and frustrating Chocolate Factory, which appeared at the height of R. Kelly's troubles without a whiff of premeditation, these separate secular and sacred albums seem more like a shrewd attempt to persuade a jury -- if not of innocence, exactly -- then certainly that he's a harmless, devout, and repentant fellow.

The mainstream-oriented Happy People is one long, midtempo groove begging to be disturbed, featuring Kelly at his most saccharine and calculatedly bland: "If I Can Make the World Dance" even dumbs down "What's Going On" into a potential Pepsi commercial.

U Saved Me, on the other hand, is where the real musical thrills -- and charges of opportunism -- await. Whether he's reworking "I Believe I Can Fly" on the inspirational title track or offering a gentle reminder that "Prayer Changes" everything from attitudes to school grades, there's no disputing the majestic heights Kelly's pop-gospel can reach, or the way his aching, conversational tenor keeps it human. But when Prince sang about climbing "The Ladder," for example, he wasn't trying to escape charges that he'd screwed a 14-year-old girl. As much as Kelly deserves credit for bucking urban music's gutter obsessions and exalting God, the "Peace" this collection craves will ring hollow until Kelly's sins are judged here on earth.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 18, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation