June 7, 2002

I Believe I Can Vomit

"R. Kelly? R. Kelly's not geeky! I demand a refund!". Hah. You get no refund. I have no mandate beyond telling you what you need to know. The acronym is a cute happenstance, not a guarantee of conduct. You need to know about R. Kelly's new song, and I need to tell you about it.

R. Kelly, for those of you who don't follow popular culture, is the multiplatinum R&B singer whose most heinous crimes against humanity pre-2002 were: (1) Marrying the then 15-year-old and then still alive Aaliyah, and (2) releasing "I Believe I Can Fly", the sappy ballad from Space Jam, on a poor, unsuspecting world.

His fame took a turn for the infamous this year, though, when he allegedly banged a 14-year-old, taped it, and, in what seemed to only surprise R. Kelly, the tape got out to the public. Kelly had, it seems, never heard of Rob Lowe, Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, Pamela Anderson, Bret Michaels, or that Larry Sanders show episode with Hank Kingsley and two hookers.

So here we are. It's the middle of the year. Kelly's been charged, booked, released on bail, and the video is on more streetcorners than the Affiliated Order of Sex Workers, Local 69. Kelly is, of course, proclaiming his innocence, although his defense now consists entirely of a bootlegged MP3 of Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me".

Well, that and a song. A new song. A heartfelt, mid-tempo ballad designed to get the public on his side over the whole twenty one felony counts of child pornography thing. So here's a quick pop quiz. You're a famous singer. You're facing 15 years in jail on child porn charges. You pour out your heartfelt feelings in a song. What do you call it?:

1) No Swingin' In The Playground For Me
2) You're Fourteen, You're Beautiful, But You're Not Mine
3) Check ID B4 Ur Freak Gets On
4) Heaven, I Need A Hug

If you guessed #4, then you too have what it takes to make it in the rough and tumble world of popular music.

"Heaven, I Need A Hug" debuted this past week on Chicago radio station WGCI-FM, which bills itself on playing only the newest music. At least, that's what I assumed when I heard their slogan was "We Have No Standards". WGCI is one of the only stations in Chicago (where the charges were filed) still willing to put R. Kelly music on the air. The station's president and general manager, Marv Dyson, said of the song: "Lyrically, it's one of the best things I ever heard."

Now, while the Internet is fast, it's not instantaneous. I couldn't find -complete- lyrics online. But I've collected snippets from various news stories, and let's just take a look at one of the best things Marv Dyson had the spheres to claim he's ever heard.

I've given 13 years of my life to this industry
Hit song or not, I've given all of me
You smile in my face and tell me you love me
But then before you know the truth you're so quick to judge me

Ah. Soaring, yet subtle. It's almost allegorical, the metaphor-rich picture he weaves of the beleagured artist, hounded and stoned by a public duped by a guy who just happens to look like a guy with a history of dating the barely post-pubescent. But wait, there's more!

It's all because I'm famous
You know what I'm sayin'
I mean if I wasn't famous
then all this wouldn't be happening.
I'm just being real.

Issues of scansion aside, the man has a point. I mean, if he hadn't been a famous celebrity, there's no way he'd have even -gotten- a 14 year old to sleep with him. Plus the video wouldn't be nearly as widely circulated. Fame is to blame!

Some other random lyrical snippets include:

...church folks, you need to stop judging...

Again, a fair argument. Pop singers should be afforded at least as much leeway as Catholic priests, after all. It's only fair.

[women] stop depending on us men
start depending on the man above."

OK, I'm not so sure what the relevance of that bit is to shagging middle-schoolers, but it invokes God and is surely sung soulfully, so another point to Kelly. But I've saved the best for last, the coup de grace of songwriting, the single refrain that, when future music historians are asked what the most pivotal lyrical moment of this decade was, will surely be their unanimous answer. I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the chorus:

Heaven, I need a hug
Would anyone out there like to hug a thug?

I'm not kidding here. That's the actual line. Reported directly from MTV News. This is the lyrical masterpiece that will turn the masses to his side. "Would anyone out there like to hug a thug?". Yes, R. Kelly, a hug will make it all better. Hug A Thug For Jesus! If a thug is hugged, the charges are bugged!

Look for my own single, "Heaven, I Need A Beatin' Stick", premiering on Minneapolis pirate radio within the month.