R. Kelly • The Buffet • RCA • Release Date: 12.11.15
R. Kelly has never had a problem with being prolific – apparently, he wrote 462 songs for his latest album, The Buffet. After listening to The Buffet, one has to wonder what percentage of those 462 songs involved sex. Likely the percentage is high given the prevalence of sex throughout the course of The Buffet. But enough about Kelly’s obsession with ‘doing it,’ how does The Buffet stack up as its own entity and compared to Kelly’s previous output? It has its moments, never blows you away, and doesn’t come close to Kelly’s most distinguished work.
“The Poem” sets the tone in salacious fashion – would we expect any less from R. Kelly? The most cringe-worthy part is when R. Kelly slurps like he’s slurping up a drink…geez! “Poetic Sex” naturally follows, chocked full of innuendo as only R. Kelly could execute it. Much like the “The Poem” preceding it, it’s a stretch and clumsy, particularly the cliché horn-dog lyrics, with the charge led by “My lyrics got a big d*ck and I just f*cked the sh*t outta y’all.” Hmm, real romantic there Kells…
“Anything Goes” featuring Ty Dolla $ign finds Kelly continue to ignore the fact he’s closer to 50 as opposed to being in his 20s. To each his own, but even as slick as “Anything Goes” is, isn’t hard to believe R. Kelly’s authenticity at this point? “Let’s Make Some Noise” keeps things sexy, amplified more thanks to Jhené Aiko’s guest appearance. The ‘sex’ ballad is respectable for what is, at least contextually within The Buffet. But still, this is explicit overkill! We get it already Kelly – you enjoy sex! Trey Songz didn’t invent it, you did because you’re a “sex genius.” Phew!
“Marching Band” proves that R. Kelly can compare any and everything to – you guessed it – SEX. Whether it makes you shake your head or laugh, give Kelly credit for “Marching Band”…or not. In addition to Kelly’s lyrics “She blow me like a tuba / I beat it up like a snare drum,” Juicy J delivers a bullet: “In the lobby Four Seasons with like ten or twelve broads / all head to my suite, it’s a million THOT march.” SMH!
If nothing more comes from the Lil Wayne and Jeremih assisted “Switch Up,” we learn that Kelly thinks “You done got way too comfy / girl you ain’t the only one that want me / hit you with the switch up.” “Wanna Be There” featuring Ariirayé is a moment of redemption following Kelly’s empty sexcapades – it marks are reunion with his formerly estranged daughter and his commitment to be better.
Following “Wanna Be There,” there seems to be an upgrade of sorts, at least where subject matter is concerned. “All My Fault,” “Wake Up Everybody,” “Get Out of Here With Me,” and “Backyard Party” are more soulfully driven and less dependent on sex to fuel them. The best of the quartet are “Wake Up Everybody” and “Backyard Party.” “Wake Up Everybody” is sensual without being oversexed, while “Backyard Party” is tried-and-true R. Kelly – think Chocolate Factory or Love Letter neo-soul.
“Sextime” may be shallow, but it’s lush and stands taller than say “Poetic Sex.” The standard edition of The Buffet concludes with “Let’s Be Real Now” featuring Tinashe. For those who like to splurge, the deluxe edition of The Buffet adds five tracks: “I Just Want To Thank You” featuring Wizkid, “Keep Searchin’,” “Sufferin’,” “I Tried” and “Barely Breathing.” The best of the bunch is “Sufferin’,” an enjoyable, well rounded throwback soul cut.
The verdict on The Buffet is as aforementioned; the album has its moments. At times, R. Kelly tries too hard, hence making the first portion album way oversexed. Once he settles in with some dashes of soul and backs off of all things profane, The Buffet is much more enjoyable. A classic – no, never, but definitely an improvement over Black Panties if nothing more!
Favorites: “Let’s Make Some Noise,” “Marching Band,” “Wake Up Everybody,” “Backyard Party” and “Sextime”