By the end of the year 2000, R. Kelly had already given R&B listeners three solo albums full of sexually-charged music (12 Play being the ultimate headboard rocking LP of that period), but with R. Kelly and R., he began to delve into life outside the bedroom (“I can’t sleep,” “When a woman’s fed up” and “If I could turn back the hands of time”), which helped make him the dominant male R&B star in the late 90s.
He opened up the new millennium defending his crown in a major way with tp2.com, a masterful combination of love, life and mortality that all pretty much says “Things will happen outside of the bedroom that are beyond our control, so let’s make magic in the bedroom with what we can control.”
It starts off VERY sexual, from the 2 minute intro in which Kelly reprises 12 play, but before getting to 13, he asks his lady to “Set it on his face.” Clearly, the tone was set from the get go. It gets even more raunchy with “Strip for you” and “R&B Thug” but then it becomes beautiful with “The Greatest Sex,” still one of the best sex songs I’ve ever heard.
Much like Marvin Gaye had mastered the art of the aural painting on “Soon I’ll be loving you”, R. Kelly sets the scene of two lovers who have that special connection that leads to a great lovemaking session on “The Greatest Sex,” complete with beautiful synth and strings arrangement of a sparse and soft but forceful drum beat. “The Greatest Sex” is one of those songs that adds a level of spirituality and togetherness to the secular, something that makes sex more than just an act – more like an experience, a happening, a blessing.
Following “The Greatest Sex” is “I don’t mean it,” an absolute beg fest without the whining and complaining of most songs of that ilk. Kelly basically admits to making mistakes including talking to his woman all wild, but wants to work it out.
“Just like that” gets back into the happier aspects of a relationship in which Kelly uses a ton of sweet similes to explain his feelings.
The remaining really sexual songs (“Like a real freak,” “One me”, “Don’t you say no” and the strip club/slow dance anthem “Feelin on yo booty”) are the R. Kelly formula from previous albums, but the latter 3rd of tp2 takes on a decidedly mortal and honest tone, especially on the dedication track “I wish” and the amazing “A woman’s threat,” the latter is Kelly speaking from a woman’s perspective over a few piano keys, basic drums and steady strings.
Picking up where “When a woman’s fed up” left off, it lists all the warnings the man ignored in the previous song and what can happen if you don’t read the signs.
As far as a straight-up sex album, tp2.com is not what you’re looking for, but if you can stand a little deep thinking after you’ve just freaked all over the house to the first half of the album, then you’ll see why this is possibly R. Kelly’s best album in terms of content.