R. Kelly let G.O.O.D. Music boss Kanye West walk away with Cruel Summer's closest thing to a "George Bush doesn't care about black people" moment — "Mitt Romney don't pay no tax" — on their album-opening team-up "To the World," but the Pied Piper of R&B would never hide from the limelight for long. His winningly smooth retro-soul throwback Write Me Back is only a few months old, and Kellz keeps talking up a forthcoming return to 12 Play-style lasciviousness to be titled Black Panties. But first, R. is going back to the Closet.
IFC has premiered the latest chapter of Trapped in the Closet, Kelly's wacky "hip-hopera." Besuited and bespectacled, clutching some ponderous tome like he's on Masterpiece (or Monsterpiece) Theatre, the veteran singer, songwriter, and producer first brings us up to date on his saga, which left off after 22 episodes in 2007. "Everybody's got a closet," he declares, promising, "These next chapters of Trapped in the Closet is gonna be so crazy."
The rest of the newly posted "Chapter 23" finds Kelly's sprawling cast of characters doing their business about Chicago, which forces R. to dramatize an unbelievable number of entertainingly realistic phone calls (shades of Double Up's "Real Talk").
IFC, which announced in March that Kelly would be bringing us more Closet, says the single-melody serial will return to the cable network in November. Remember that almost a year ago Kelly said he had written 32 more chapters.
Meanwhile, in a new interview with the Miami New Times, Kelly suggested that we could be in store for "30-something chapters." He also defended the project's artistic merit. "To put it simply, Trapped in the Closet is now like a ghetto hip-hop version of General Hospital or One Life to Live," he's quoted as saying. "It's not only cliffhangers. There are actual stories that's goin' on here. The characters have more depth. They're not just some person singing on the song in this R. Kelly voice."
According to another new interview, with Time, as many as 20 new chapters could be here on November 23 — Black Friday. "We just shot 20 chapters," he said. "They’ll be coming out the day after Thanksgiving. Trapped in the Closet is forever. I’ve got like a hundred chapters to come." Pressed on "forever," he confirmed, "It's forever." And ever amen.