James L. Knight Center, Miami
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Hotter Than: "Sex in the Kitchen" ... Uh huh.
A night with Robert Sylvester Kelly is just as sexy as we'd always fantasized.
But it was also weird, hilarious, filthy, absurd, and heartfelt.
As Kells told Crossfade when he last cruised through the Magic City: "The show is full of old-school R. Kelly and new-school R. Kelly. So there'll definitely be 12 Play R. Kelly mixed with the TP-2 R. Kelly and right on through the Happy People R. Kelly. The whole nine!"
See also: R. Kelly's Six Most NSFW Moments
Everyone, obviously, was dressed to the nines too.
Because, as opening comic JJ Williamson observed: "We all out here to get fucked tonight! The floor gonna be so wet with pussy juice, niggas be slippin'."
By 8 p.m., the lobby was flooded with lovely ladies in leather pants and gold heels with lower back tats, champeroned by guys in golf shirts, sweater vests, and Kangol caps.
We all ate chicken wings. We drank $12 Hennessy. And we waited in line at formal photo stations tricked out with custom airbrushed backdrops of Moët, Patrón, Nuvo, Cristal, and Rémy bottles, and bubbles and stars and fluttering hearts and red carpets and stretch limos and even Kells himself.
Like a gentleman, R. arrived nice and early, smoking a cigar, right around 9 p.m., following a mock rocket launch countdown. (This was just the first of many great dick jokes.)
"The show will start in R-minus 14 minutes ... 9 minutes .. 4 minutes." And then the whole crowd hooted through the final seconds to blastoff. "Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One!"
And there he stood in a fake VIP club, complete with four sofas, bottle-service tables, and a full bar, all soaked in low 'n' sexy pink and purple light.
Soon enough, there'd be ladies.
See also: R. Kelly on New Album, Black Panties: "I Wanted to Do an Album for the Strip Club"
"Ooohhh! Ooohh! Ooohhh!" Kells crooned. "Are you ready for a show! Then somebody, anybody make some noise!"
And thousands of horny humans screamed.
But it wasn't enough to satisfy the man. So he melodically spazzed out: "I can't! I can't! I can't! I refuse to do this show! Unless I hear that all the real R Kelly fans up in this motherfucker!
"Ooohhh! I heard someone over there making some noise! Ooohhh! I heard someone in the middle making some noise! Ooohhh! I heard someone up top making some noise! I love you! Do you love me!"
Just like his 33-chapter hip-hopera epic, Trapped in the Closet, the whole evening hinged on absurdist melodramatics, sudden segues, and general ridiculousness.
He had his handlers usher a coterie of plucked-from-the-crowd women into his fake club, laid them out on the VIP sofas (where they remained for the entire show), and plied them with liquor. That's right ... The bar was actually serving drinks. And Kells gulped straight from the bottle.
Meanwhile, his set was a giddily hyperactive sprint through 29 hits in about 90 minutes. "You want it all," he teasingly whispered. "And you're gonna get it."
Then like an ADD-addled nine-year-old sex freak on a sugar high messing with iTunes, R. whipped through "Your Body's Callin'" and "Bump 'n' Grind" and "Freaky in the Club" and "Fuck You Tonight" and "I'm a Flirt" and "12 Play" and "Bump 'n' Grind" again.
He did a-cappela versions of Trapped in the Closet stuff that came off more like stand-up bits than songs.
He crept toward the front row during "12 Play," slyly encouraging a touchy-feely female to grab his junk. (And she did.)
He provided constant cackling commentary ("I feel like some of you was born off this motherfuckin' song! Ha!") between, during, and after songs.
He even improvised a mini-ballad out of a mid-show sound check. "Put the music in my ear! I can't hear shit! Put the music in my ear! Put the music in my ear! Put the music in my ear! Testing! One! Two! That's better! Testing! One! Two! That's better! Testing! One! Two! That's better!
And then another about "sweatin'" and needing a towel. "I'll write a song out of anything! Can I get a towel! I'm sweaty than a motherfucker! Wipe my face! Keep on wipin' it, babe! Gimme back my towel 'cause you ain't wipin' my face!"
It was totally crazy. In a good way. Like Kells himself. As long as he doesn't pee on you.
Craziest of all, though, is R. Kelly's slickness and skill for instantly shifting, flawlessly, into soulful, heartfelt mode. You know, just seconds after making a goofy dick joke.
On smooth, earnest cuts like "When a Woman's Fed Up" and "I Believe I Can Fly" (surprisingly, the biggest sing-along of the night), the King Creeper can still sound like the obvious melodic and vocal stepson of Sam Cooke circa "Change Is Gonna Come," which (probably not coincidentally) was the last song played by the DJ before Kelly took the stage.
That emotional range (in addition to his uncommon knack for songwriting and undiminished-despite-surgery singing ability) is maybe the reason why, while the fans stopped caring about almost every other '90s R&B crooner, they never quit on Kelly, even as he was snagged in NSFW scandal after NSFW scandal.
"It's been 22 years! 22 years! 22 years! That I been doing this shit!" he purred, speaking in song to the Miami fans last night. " And y'all still calling on me! Y'all still calling on me! Y'all still calling on me! And I want to thank you! Because without you! There would be no me! And y'all still calling on me!
"That's my time, y'all! I love you! Goodnight!"
R. Kelly's Setlist:
-"Your Body's Callin"
-"Bump 'n' Grind"
-"Freaky in the Club"
-"Fuck You Tonight"
-"You Remind Me of Something"
-"Strip for You"
-"I'm a Flirt"
-"R&B Thug" (A Capella)
-"Sex in the Kitchen" (A Capella)
-"Real Talk" (A Capella)
-"Bump 'n' Grind" Reprise
-"Feelin on Yo Booty"
-"Seems Like You're Ready"
-"When a Woman's Fed Up"
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-"I Believe I Can Fly"
-"Step in the Name of Love"