R. Kelly steps away from bump ‘n’ grind without losing a beat

By Gus Bode

It’s no question that R. Kelly has had his fair share of legal problems and bad press recently. Despite the star’s fluctuating public persona, on his new double CD, “Happy People/U Saved Me,” the artist continues to do what he does best – make music.

Be warned, if you’ve been anxiously waiting for “Mr. Bump’n’Grind” to return you are out of luck. Kelly has decided to go so low profile on his newest project, he may have redefined his profile all together.

Disc 1, “Happy People”, is full of musical dips, twists and turns. And every melodic adventure is written, arranged, and produced by R. Kelly.


If you loved “Happy People” and “Red Carpet” (Pause, Flash) then you’re in heaven.

If not, you’ll be in hell.

Now, do not confuse “Step in the Name of Love” with the previous two. For the first of its kind, “Step in the Name of Love” was hot and the remix was even hotter. As a follow-up, “Happy People” wasn’t as on key.

But with the remix of “Step in the Name of Love” and the original, how much more can we take? Followed by “Pause, flash, pause, flash,” everything is all the same. They just keep coming.

Tracks such as “Love Street” and “Ladies’ Night (Treat Her Like Heaven)” all have a Frankie Beverly and Maze sound – slightly old school yet never going out of style. Of course, “Red Carpet” keeps you grooving.

Listeners can actually step straight through from track 2 until you get to track 6, then take a break until you get to track 9, and step your night away.

In fact, stepping is all you can do to this CD. There will not be many fiestas started by this disc.


On the other side of the spectrum is Disc 2, which is full of repentance, doubt, and praising. It’s definitely not the typical R.

Granted, “I Believe I Can Fly” was a huge uplifting and soul bearing -chart topper. But no one actually thought Kelly would make an entire gospel CD. Or did we? The end result is satisfying.

A 3-way phone call takes Kelly Price in the middle of an audio threesome, without the sex. The tempo of “Prayer Changes” and “How Did You Manage?” are reminiscent of Kelly’s “old” days, but these are gospel songs.

If you’re not religious, it’s ok. Kelly keeps it real.

Nearly everyone can relate to one song or another, but one can’t help but to wonder – is he promoting his incorruptibility by preying on religion?

On the other hand, has Kelly turned his life around? With no more “sex me,” “12 play,” and baby makers in the back seat, who’s going to lead us into temptation?

“Chocolate Factory” was a glimpse into the new R., but so many souls were hoping it was a publicity fad and he would be back to his old self in no time.

One thing for sure, the man is talented. Not many people can segway into gospel from “Hitting It Hard From Da Back,” and be any good at it.

On the flipside, this career move may create a change in Kelly’s audience. Will those that once loved the twelve ways into sexual bliss continue to support him?

“Happy People/U Saved Me” is definitely a different direction for this artist, but not extremely disappointing. It appears that Kelly may have grown out of his freakiness, but for some fans of his older music, the transition won’t seem fair.