I do my best to remain blissfully unaware of R. Kelly’s day to day business. If it doesn’t involve him urinating on someone under the watchful eye of the camcorder, I really don’t want to hear about it. So, the idea of him recording a multi part dramatic opus and then proceeding to act it out came as a very out of the blue revelation to me.
I was introduced to Trapped in the Closet by my friend Jeff. He is a fellow Neil Hamburger aficionado, and despite the fact that our musical tastes differ on a regular basis, we share an appreciation for entertainment that comes from accidentally or not-so-accidentally awful things.
He described Trapped in the Closet as “having no reason to exist,” or something like that. Granted, many things don’t actually need to exist. However, it was implicit that not only does it not need to exist, it also shouldn’t. I take that back; that’s too harsh. It needs to exist. Because it is amazing.
From the rough description, I knew that R. Kelly was acting out some songs from his latest album. What I didn’t realize was that every single lyric was going to be acted out, as literally as could be. If this weren’t in the R&B genre, it could almost be taken as campy, or purposely awful. But since R&B as a whole displays less humor than copies of math textbooks or Maus, this can not be so.
And without further ado, let us all get trapped… in the closet!
After this pulp intro, we enter the bedroom, where R. Kelly (or R, as he is referred to from now on,) is just waking up. According to R, the bed doesn’t belong to him, so it seems he just had a sleepover with a friend of his. However, in comes a woman in some revealing undergarments. A women who is not R’s girlfriend, which becomes dramatic plot point number one. When he tries to leave, we learn that she also has a significant other, and he is coming up the stairs to the apartment. That is dramatic plot point number two, but I’ve decided that I won’t be able to keep up with the tally; there’s just too much drama.
Since this is apparently one of those rare apartments without a fire escape, she tells him to get in the closet. Didn’t he see the giant words outside the apartment window? I don’t know how it could be any more obvious he would be trapped in there. R needs to hire Admiral Ackbar to run around screaming every time he was headed into a trap.
Ignoring the size 1,700 font words that were outside his window just moments ago, R gets in the closet. When the husband gets home, she informs him that she “cooked and ran his bath water.” What the hell is the point of that? Is he going to eat in the bath? By the time he finishes his food, the bath will be cold, and vice versa. A cheating woman who doesn’t understand simple domestic things, this guy sure picked a winner.
He carries her into bed (you fool! Now your food and your bath will be cold!) and they commence with the normal R&B in-bed activities. That is, until R’s cell phone rings. What a dickhead. R rushes to try to turn the ringer on “VIIIIIIIIIBRAAAAAAAAAAATE!!!!” but it is too late. Besides, why vibrate, why not silent? You’d still hear the bzzz bzzzz of the phone on vibrate, so that wouldn’t help much either.
Instead of asking whose phone is ringing, or something similar, the boyfriend decides to say “There’s a mystery going on, and I’m going to solve it.” Which, really, is the most appropriate and realistic thing to write for that particular scenario.
What occurs next is most likely my favorite line in the whole song. After describing all the places the boyfriend is looking, R sings: “Checks under the bed, then under the dresser / He looks at the closet, I pull out my Beretta.” Brilliant! What makes this verse even better is the fact that he says “closet” five times in eleven seconds.
This ends Part One of the saga.
We will pause for intermission.
So the boyfriend’s day is going about as poorly as any day can go. Not only does a strange man show up, in his house, he’s pointing a gun at him. R claims that he is trying to get the boyfriend to calm down, meanwhile the boyfriend is probably demonstrating the most calm that any person could in any situation, let alone one like this. The wildest he is getting is through his enthusiastic hand gestures; although I suspect he is only doing them to fit in with the other two.
After lots of talking and gun pointing, the boyfriend says he’s a pastor, and R is relieved. Now they can handle things “Christian like,” and talk about all of the gun carrying, premarital sex, and infidelity that needs to be discussed. The pastor then makes a cell phone call, and informs everyone that they are in store for a big surprise.
He likens himself to R, saying that they are both coming out of the closet. This is known as foreshadowing.
And, not too shockingly, the pastor’s “girlfriend” turns out to be… a man.
The next few minutes are taken up by R and the pastor arguing back and forth about the pastor being gay. R is acting like he has known this guy for years, and can’t believe the shocking truth. If I just met some guy and found out he was gay, beard girlfriend or not, I’d be like “alright.” No gun waving, no talking in awkward rhyme, no inappropriately singing sentences with uncalled for amounts of emotion. Just, “Alright. Later.”
Then the pastor and the wife (apparently they’re married) argue back and forth which is worse, having a straight cheating relationship or a gay cheating relationship. R gets annoyed, and shoots his gun in the air. In the middle of an apartment complex. With the door open.
Tired of the gay vs. straight argument, he calls his house, and he gets a surprise… a man answered the phone!
The third act sucked.
R then races home, sitting in a car against a backdrop that looks like it came from a Saturday Night Live set. He gets pulled over, and “can’t believe it.” Hm, you’re a young black male, in a Cadillac, doing 85. Surprising.
He then rhymes “cigarette” with “ticket,” by pronouncing it “cigaritte.”
After scaring the crap out his wife by throwing the shower open, he starts hollering at her. She explains that her brother came home, and R feels like an ass. Like all couples in this movie, they immediately move to the bed. The mood is set; that is, until he sees a condom in the bed.
Going back into his previous argument tactics of waving a gun, R threatens to murder his wife. He then rhymes “bed” with “cigarette” but again mispronounces cigarette, which makes me wonder if maybe he just doesn’t know how to spell the word.
After a lot of emotional back and forth (by emotional, I mean holding out notes when not really needed), the wife reveals that the man she was sleeping with was the policeman that pulled R over. Whoa.
That is all for the filmed part of Trapped in the Closet. He also performed act six at the most recent VMAs and it made for a MUCH more awkward performance. This is because he was alone on stage, and taking it very, very seriously.
I don’t know who the guy introducing him is, but he is both weird looking and too excited about seeing the “newest chapter of the saga.” No one seems to care about the fact that R isn’t even trying to make it look like he’s actually singing; but it is MTV after all. What this reminds me of is a thirteen year old boy lip synching to a CD in his room. Hand and body gestures all over the place, exaggerated facial expressions, and not a full grasp of what the actual lyrics are. Very long story short: Rufus (the husband) chooses Cathy over Chuck (the husband’s boyfriend.) Personally, I would have gone with Chuck. Knowing my wife had slept with R. Kelly would be too nauseating of a fact to live with.
And there you have it: a twenty plus minute song with no chorus, melody, or sense. A story that dares you to give a damn about any of the characters, which of course you don’t, won’t, and couldn’t fathom doing. It’s hard to give this a rating of 1-10. But I will voice my opinion on it by saying that his video with all of the underage peeing seemed like a better artistic decision.