Despite recent child molestation allegations against the R&B singer, R. Kelly’s sixth solo album, Chocolate Factory, gets right down to the usual business. The first song begins with Kelly oozing, “Anything you want/Just come to Daddy.” Though the album is chaste in comparison to his previous insipid concoctions, the first single, the infectious “Ignition,” amounts to nothing more than an embarrassing string of bad car metaphors: “Let me stick my key in your ignition, babe.” But while much of the album is doused in sweet, almost classic-sounding hooks (“Step in the Name of Love” and the title track are as close to Marvin Gaye’s indelible style as Kelly will ever get), he insists on likening himself to a nursery rhyme character, “the Pied Piper of R&B.” (As for the album’s title, we’ll spare you the Willy Wonka jokes.) As always, Kelly’s songwriting skills leave much to be desired; for every hook-driven “You Knock Me Out” there’s a “Showdown,” an asinine, interlude-filled insult to songwriters everywhere.
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