From its garish cover, which finds R. Kelly standing on a mountaintop against a fire-red sky that looks more like the apocalypse than a sunset, looking down at his apparently erect penis, to its pedestrian melodies, beats, and lyrics, TP.3 Reloaded represents everything that’s wrong with mainstream hip-hop and R&B today, mainly its obsession with money and sex and its complete lack of soul. More jarring, though, is Kelly’s utter lack of talent. Craft is obviously not something Kelly is interested in: His falsetto is awkward at best and the supposedly sexy/hypnotic liquid drops that permeate several of the album’s tracks is more like Chinese water torture.
Which is also a good way to describe the lyrics. “In the Kitchen” helps Kelly reach new depths of misogyny with lines like “Girl, I’m ready to toss your salad” and “Girl, you’re in the kitchen/Cooking me a meal/Something makes me wanna come in there and get a feel,” while “Remote Control” is yet another 5th-grade level metaphor-laden ballad featuring gems like “Let me put this adapter in you/It will keep you charged up.” Is this Prince’s legacy? A song filled with TiVo metaphors? And forget your everyday flower as a symbol for the vagina; Kelly prefers to liken his girl’s “sweet pussy” to a marijuana leaf on “Sex Weed”: “Girl, your shit is the chronic/’Cause I could tell by the way you roll it up/Make a playa wanna smoke it up.” Wait. Did he just say he wants to smoke her shit?
But this is all to be expected from an R. Kelly album. While it may have been disappointing to hear the independent women of Destiny’s Child get all domestic on Destiny Fulfilled’s “Cater 2 U” and “T-Shirt,” Kelly’s “Put My T-Shirt On” makes their Stepfordization even more revolting. He might be the single worst songwriter living today, the final piece of evidence being “Trapped in the Closet,” a five-chapter suite devoid of any sort of structural or musical relevance whatsoever but big on laugh-out-loud hilarity (and presumably unintended camp): When he gets caught fucking church pastor Rufus’s wife Cathy it’s revealed that Kelly isn’t the only one hiding in the closet—Rufus has a gay lover named Chuck—and by the end of “Chapter 3” Kelly finds out that his wife is stepping out on him too, ultimately “climaxing” in a tangled (but nonsensical) social web of indiscretion. If Lil’ Kim can get a year and a day in the slammer for trying to protect a friend, Kelly should at least get that much for this epic piece of crap alone.