There has been a heavy influx of modern and neo r'n'b in the past few years, but R. Kelly will always remain an important figure in what we now consider “old school r'n'b”. With his twelfth studio album Black Panties, Kelly explained that he wanted to return to his classic sound, “I wanted to change lanes with this new album and remind people of the and 12 Play style of music I can do — 'Kellz music!” (Rolling Stone).

Black Panties is unashamedly a spread of sex music, covering a list of many things that could go down in the bedroom. The r'n'b superstar is his typical creative self when describing bedroom actions, for instance, he compares going down on woman to licking the inside of an Oreo.  But while R. Kelly attempts to offer an updated, enhanced version of 12 Play, he fails to make it as credible as his previous work with the absence of those Kellz classics.

A handful of tracks on this record are undeniably catchy. The album begins with a very promising opener, “Legs Shaking.” With the help of Ludacris, this joint is silky and sexy. “My Story” is also one of the stand-outs, that remains stuck in your head with its sing-along hook.

As with 2 Chainz on “My Story”, the featured rap artists (Future, Migos, Juicy J, and Jeezy are all among them) definitely assist Kelly and often give his music an extra/needed boost. His track with Kelly Rowland, “All The Way,” epitomizes the kind of sound we would expect from this album. Kelly and Kellz, make for an excellent vocal combination to create some seductive r'n'b, something that the singer also does well by himself on “Genius”.  

Sonically, the album is on-point providing a familiar, smooth, yet slightly updated r'n'b sound-- after all, Kelly does have to keep up with the new age r'n'bers in some way. But what is lacking on this record is lyrical strength. Kelly falls flat on some of the tracks, failing to keep the listener captivated throughout the album. At times, the hooks get a bit repetitive and his words are unimaginative. “Marry The Pussy” is a good example of this. Kelly relies on the shock factor of the title, and adds in recurrent lyrics to what should have been a stand-out track.

On certain tracks The Pied Piper is deliberately creating humor and embracing self-parody. He gives us some witty one-liners such as, “Make your body sing to me, sounds like R.Kelly’s greatest hits” on “Lights On”. R. Kelly has mammoth amounts of talent, and as funny as Kelly is, we also want him to provide some genuinely dope music. 

That said, “Shut Up," (which was actually released two years ago), clearly shows Kelly is aware of his critics, but chooses to not care what they say. Here, the singer takes a break from the deliberate one-dimension of the album, and gets serious discussing his tough times, such as his throat surgery. It’s refreshing to hear Kellz be real on this track as he speaks from the heart, but it's also somewhat unsettling if you consider his questionable past with underage girls-- should we really shut up about that?

To wrap things up, this album has does have decent tracks. It will make you "SMH" with laughter at Kelly’s willingness to speak so poignantly about his sexual desires. On the whole though, the album falls flat in several places, and leaves you a tad disappointed knowing that R Kelly is capable of so much more.