Just like 50 Cent halted Before I Self Destruct to record Curtis (see "50 Cent Talks Timberlake Collabo, Star-Studded New LP Curtis"), R. Kelly put an album called Making Babies on the backburner for his upcoming Tuesday release, Double Up (see "New R. Kelly LP Includes Akon, Jeezy, 'Flirt' — But No 'Closet' Till July").
But his plans changed. The Pied Piper of R&B says fans can blame rap for the switch-up. "I did a song for Young Jeezy, I did a track for Snoop Dogg," Kelly continued. "Everybody in the hip-hop world started calling me to do stuff for them — get on remixes, sing hooks and do tracks — and I did. In the midst of me working on my album, I'm watching TV and listening to radio, all [my guest work] is blowing up. I said, 'Man, I probably need to stop what I'm doing and put that same flavor on my album.' "
Just from hearing the first couple of tracks released from the album — including the "I'm a Flirt" remix and his duet with Usher, "Same Girl" (see "R. Kelly And Usher Get Played By The 'Same Girl' ") — Kelly isn't lacking award-winning melodies or fan-grabbing hooks. Also present: those sometimes comedic, always unique slants on everything from answering-machine greetings to asking for a girl's phone number to comparing candy to sex.
It starts right from the top of the album the confrontational "The Champ." With Swizz Beatz in the background yelling encouragement like your best friend instigating a 3 p.m. rumble in the schoolyard, Kells sings about defying the odds, unable to be defeated by even a pack of lions in the jungle, let alone other artists.
"Y'all cats is foreplaying, I'm pregnant by the game," he sings. "Some would like to see me, ball and chain/ But I'm a child of God, my destiny is ordained/ I'm about to shoot the world up with this lyrical cocaine."
Kells is at his overtly sexual best on "Sweet Tooth." It's a ballad that will remind you of some of his more playful material, such as "Ignition" and the unforgettably titled "Sex Weed."
"I'm hungry, girl, let me raid your kitchen/ … I got a sweet tooth for you, girl," the insatiable singer declares. "I'm tempted to taste/ … You're looking like a big ole piece of cake."
He keeps it a little too real on "Real Talk." The track is almost like he's acting out discord in dialogue — with harmony, of course. He's accused of cheating because one of his girl's friends saw him at the club with some other women. His defense is that other guys were at the club as well, so how could her friend tell who was with whom?
His women woes aren't any better on "Best Friend," which features Keyshia Cole and Polow Da Don. The R. is an inmate doing five to 10 years in jail, and Cole and Polow play his girl and best friend, respectively. When the pair visit him in jail, Kells asks them to send him some toilet paper, and all of a sudden, he has suspicions his loved ones are having an affair — maybe because Polow shows up to the prison wearing a shirt from Kelly's closet.
Ludacris and Kid Rock stick their heads in on "Rock Star." And what are the traits of a perfect female rock star? You have to look so good you can shut the club down and make Kelly want to crowd-surf.
"Leave Your Name" is another slow jam, and it gets the TMI crown. Kelly tells the story behind the outgoing message on his phone. "Leave your name after the beep, I'll be sure to get back with you if I'm not asleep or having some sex/ If I'm not faded or making a baby," he croons.
Track list for R. Kelly's Double Up, according to Jive Records:
· "The Champ" (featuring Swizz Beatz)
· "Double Up" (featuring Snoop Dogg)
· "Tryin' to Get a Number" (featuring Nelly)
· "Get Dirty" (featuring Chamillionaire)
· "Leave Your Name"
· "Freaky in the Club"
· "The Zoo"
· "I'm a Flirt" remix (featuring T.I. and T-Pain)
· "Same Girl" (featuring Usher)
· "Real Talk"
· "Hook It Up" (featuring Huey)
· "Rock Star" (featuring Ludacris and Kid Rock)
· "Best Friend" (featuring Keyshia Cole and Polow Da Don)
· "Rollin' "
· "Sweet Tooth"
· "Havin' a Baby"
· "Sex Planet"
· "Rise Up"