Batten down the chocolate factory and stay off the poop deck! R. Kelly's wonderful retro-soul album Love Letter is about to be a Caribbean cruise!The five-day "Romantic 'Love Letter Cruise'" sets sail October 1, 2012, departing form Miami with stops at Grand Turks, Half Moon Cay, and Nassua, Bahamas. It isn't cheap — is love ever cheap? However, cruise participants who book before December 17 will save $250. Kells will be on hand to perform, and those on board the ship can take a stepping class, participate in a "12 Play" basketball game or (we assume) do a quick run through of "Trapped in the Buffet."
Love Letter is Kelly's brilliant stab at the soulful '50s and '60s revival that has been popping up everywhere recently from Raphael Saadiq and Mayer Hawthorne to Cee-Lo's "Fuck You," Lloyd's "Dedication to My Ex," and the Kanye West/Jay-Z merger "Otis." Kelly nearly outstrips them all, adding his own considerable songwriting chops, impeccable vocal stylings, and wacky postmodern sensibility. But the album came out far too late to receive any real consideration for 2010 year-end lists, and it definitely came out far too late last year to receive any real consideration this time around.
Which is a real shame: It opens with a madrigal! It involves taxi-cab sex and self-referential hits! There's a Christmas remix! (Also, "Radio Message" and "When a Woman Loves" are sumptuously catchy pop throwbacks that could share a double A-sided single with Beyoncé's "Love on Top.")
Kelly isn't the first pop star to host his own cruise. John Mayer donned his mankini for the inaugural Mayercraft Carrier cruise in 2008, while Taylor Swift's first cruise took to the high seas in January. SPIN even took a wild ride on the KISS cruise and we're still getting fake blood out of our sailor suits. Neither can be quite as seductive as Kells, though, so as critic Dave Moore warns, "Mothers hide your daughters!"
Below, enjoy the Christmas remix of R. Kelly's Love Letter title track: