Steppers Go To Heaven
R. Kelly’s double disc Happy People/U Saved Me displays two attitudes whose co-existence sometimes seems unbelievable. The first disc is a laid back R&B journey to Kelly’s idea of a good time, “Fancy cars/movie stars.” The second uses a Gospel tone to deal with ideas of salvation. However, what Kelly values in his first disc ($100,000 on his wrist) seems inconsistent with the piety he displays on U Saved Me.Kelly repeatedly emphasizes that Happy People is “designed to touch your soul/and put your mind at ease.” So much so that the true theme seems to be escape. This is a welcoming vibe for many on a Friday evening. The soothing tracks play well together, though the more upbeat “Ladies Night (Treat Her Like Heaven)” is a welcome tempo change. Often the lyrics are inane, but when sung in Kelly’s smooth style it hardly seems relevant.
Though personal issues should be separated from artistic expression, at times it’s difficult to listen to Kelly’s ideas of having a good time. The refrain “Welcome to the greatest show on earth/My bedroom,” is uncomfortable to hear. His later claims on personal salvation become confusing; how does he know God has forgiven him? Kelly doesn’t describe his struggle for forgiveness, he merely documents the fact that he believes he is saved.
Early on in Happy People Kelly promises listeners a good time, and he delivers a mellow party disc with ample grooves. But his claims to forgiveness in U Saved Me ring especially false after hearing him put great importance on forgetting his troubles by partying away the night.