For now, let's just call them "a bunch of songs we've never heard before," not R. Kelly's upcoming 12 Play: 4th Quarter LP.
More than a dozen of Kelly's previously unreleased records leaked online over the past couple of days, and the R. does shout out his upcoming album on a few of the tracks, leading the listener to believe they were to be included on the opus. The ditties are more in the R&B lane, with more singing and less hip-hop than his last album, Double Up.
Libido is in the driver's seat on a track labeled "At the Same Time." The Pied Piper sings about him and his lover arriving at their dream destination simultaneously. "We'll be curling our toes," he sings. " ... Girl, just let me know my access is granted/ Smooching is something I do to get started/ ... We're the perfect match/ Sex at its best/ You're my pussycat, I'm your hot mess."
Kelly's romps are still center stage in the song "Son of a Bitch," on which he delivers a softly sung, conversational flow over a piano. "You know the sex is good when you tell your best friend, 'He was screaming!' "
With all these hours logged in the bedroom, someone getting pregnant isn't a far stretch. "Might Be Mine" is a retelling of a "true story" from the singer's life. He left the club with a stripper, one thing led to another and a year later, he gets a phone call from the woman's lawyer saying she is about to have his baby. The song is told in narrative mode, like a chapter from "Trapped in the Closet."
"He said, 'Get ready to raise it'/ 'Cause she said he's the only one she laid with," he sings about the initial conversation with his potential baby mama's attorney. "There's a very good chance that it might be mine/ Oh, I should have used protection/ ... I guess I'm on my way to take the test."
As the record progresses, Kelly confronts his own legal team with the allegations. "They said, 'It's a good chance you might have to pay the cost,' " he croons. "I said, 'Good lawwwd!' "
His paternal instincts kick in on "Wanna Make a Baby," on which he gives himself a pat on the back for his work between the sheets: "I'm talking two thumbs up every time we make love."
He throws in humorous punch lines and references to modern technology. "Let the iPod play/ ... I'm trying to knock you up so you can have a mini-me."
"Hair Braider," which was released to video and radio outlets, is the only record out of the set of 13 that was an official track.
Since he was exonerated on child-pornography charges last month, Kelly has been focusing on the underground, dropping freestyles over tracks such as Lil Wayne's "A Milli" and Hot Stylz's "Lookin' Boy." He hasn't put out any more singles. Kelly's next official single is called "Skin," and the singer is slated to shoot a video for it in L.A. this weekend, with Anthony Mandler directing.
Jive Records has not said whether any of the other records (not counting "Hair Braider" and "Skin") were supposed to be on the fourth incarnation of 12 Play. It has been confirmed by the Grammy winner's camp that his album was being talked about for release later this year. On Wednesday afternoon (July 30), however, his label told MTV News that with the records mysteriously finding their way out of the vault, the in-store schedule has been accelerated.
[This story was originally published at 8:00 a.m. ET on 07.30.2008]