There has always been something about R. Kelly that real lovers of R&B appreciated and that was the fact he was a student of the past. We all remember his Ron Isley obsession in the mid 90’s even going so far to help resurrect the career of Ron Isley back in the day with the whole Mr. Big thing. Somewhere along the line R. Kelly found himself at a crossroads, a mid life crisis type place for an artist who had been out since the early 90’s and wanted to stay in the mix of who was hot today. With that he did his thing with a few of the hot at the moment stars in the game. Then out of the blue Love Letter dropped and shit changed for R. Kelly. I really never heard Love Letter pass that one single I loved “When A Woman Loves” dropped. I’ve heard the whole album thanks to my girlfriend who played it every day until it was scratched. I mean every fucking day, when she went to shower that CD played, I know that CD by heart at this point. So of course when Write Me Back came out she wanted that one as well, and that is how this review comes to you.
First off the Write Me Back starts off with “Love Is” and I find myself thinking Barry White every time the songs plays until the breakdown comes in then I’m like Teddy Pendergrass. Pass trying to figure out which one of the two legends were tapped as inspiration I do like the song. One of the more obvious tributes, that is the way I see it, some of the songs are tributes to a time long gone, is the Smokey Robinson fueled “ Fool For You”. This sounds so much like old Motown down to the background singers, The Funk Brothers style on the beat and the just the smoothness Smokey had with his vocals. “All Rounds On Me” comes in and you’re thrown even further back to the days of Chuck Berry and it only in the context of Write Me Back does it fit. Even as R Kelly keeps his topics modern the vibe thanks to the music keeps things in yesteryear. Kelly keeps with his Michael Jackson tribute as the bonus track ‘You Are My World”. More than his Jackson remake on Love Letter he really sounds like Jackson on “You Are My World”, so much so you’d think he inserted a few excerpts from “Remember The Time” in there somewhere.
Does this reimagining of past artists sound fair well throughout the whole album, not at all. “Party Jumpin” is an example of that. As much as the song has that vibe of something like “The Twist” or “Shout”, the one thing you notice is if the beat was more modern it would fit today since most songs now have artists sounding like they’re yelling for the crowd. Another slight flaw is the fact the music sounds the same on a few songs. I can go from “Share My Love” to “Love Is” music and melody wise and not really skip a beat. That isn’t a bad thing because to be fair as dope as Barry White and Gamble and Huff are the music did sound the same a few times. Then there is “Believe In Me” which I could see Drake rocking this shit, well from the Drake songs I’ve heard because I’m not a fan of dude.
You have to love the fact that R. Kelly is a student of music, again “Believe In Me” shows he understands how music is structured todays as well as how things were back in the day. If more people on the radio, I say people because I refuse to call them artists or musicians, followed his lead there might be a shift to bring at the very least “music” to radio. Write Me Back is good and I know an older crowd will really love the album because taps on what we, yeah I’m in my 30’s, can identify with more than what Chris Brown and Trey Songz is bringing to the table. That doesn’t’ mean R. Kelly isn’t going to be able to relate to the average radio head and BET watcher either. R. Kelly like Mary J., Snoop and Jay-Z seem to have the formula to stay relevant so a younger audience riding with R. Kelly isn’t farfetched at all. Write Me Back is a good continuation to Love Letter and even if this was to be the first endeavor with this concept it would work. If you’re a fan of how music used to be and a fan of R. Kelly then yeah this is the album for you.