R. Kelly Goes Back To Basics With "Share My Love"

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R. Kelly's 2010 throwback album Love Letter was one of my favorite records of that year, full of romance and and aesthetics that grabbed from Sam Cooke, late-night smooth-jazz playlists. ("Taxi Cab," in particular, is a corker.) His follow-up to Love Letter is reportedly going to be called Write Me Back; today the first single, the string-drenched "Share My Love," hit the Internet, and if it's any indication, the two albums are going to be of a sort of epistolary piece. "Share" does seem a bit tossed-off—Kells can seemingly make joyous, uptempo love songs as easily as I can toast my morning English muffin. But that is not a bad thing, because what the world needs now, etc., etc. Clip below.

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20 Questions Brought Up By The Grammy Nominations

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The Album of the Year nominees, as presented by Katy Perry.
Last night's Grammy nominations show was full of pomp, eyeliner, and people on Twitter becoming very confused. Here's the complete list of nominees; below, 20 questions that we're still wrestling with some 14 hours after the broadcast signed off.

1. "Super Bass": Robbed or totally robbed?

2. Now that Rihanna is officially an Album Artist thanks to her Album of the Year nod for Loud, are critics going to rush to reevaluate Talk That Talk before they file their Best Of '11 lists?

3. A song from freakin' Family Guy gets a nod in the Best Song Written For Visual Media category but the Lonely Island's "Jack Sparrow" doesn't? Come on.

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R. Kelly's Book Might Be In Limbo, But He Has A New Song

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R. Kelly took the publicity storm engendered by the news of his possibly upcoming memoir Soulacoaster to release a song via his Twitter account. The track's titled "Shut Up," and it's dedicated to those people who doubted that he'd be able to come back... from the emergency throat surgery he underwent in July. Well, first he thanks his fans, and God, and how focused his doctors were. But then he gets into the "negative shit" that surrounded him while he was in recovery, getting a couple of digs in at one singer who, despite being compared to him, doe not have his innate baby-making energy. People who called him "washed up" and done are also enter his melismatic crosshairs. And, oh yeah, he can still sing; he shows off his still-existent ability to get off a falsetto lick or two here and there, and at one point imitates a whippoorwill. (Swear.) Clip below.

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R. Kelly's Memoir Soula Coaster Is Not Coming Out Next Week. And Maybe Not At All? (Updated)

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The mysterious case of Soula Coaster's disappearance

This isn't a surprising development, but it's an unfortunate one. There seems to be some unexplained drama with the R. Kelly life-changer Soula Coaster: Diary of Me, the cover of which made the rounds this morning. Online bookseller Indigo has the title listed for pre-sale, along with the release date of next Tuesday, November 15. But Soula Coaster has been pulled off Amazon with the ominous "We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock" disclaimer. And the project's co-author David Ritz, a celebrity biographer who not only released books with Grandmaster Flash, Ray Charles, and Tavis Smiley (plus Snoop from The Wire!), but famously co-wrote "Sexual Healing" with Marvin Gaye, confirmed via email that the title wouldn't be released next week.

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Live: R. Kelly Does It His Way At The Prudential Center

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R. Kelly w/Keyshia Cole, Marsha Ambrosius
Prudential Center
Thursday, June 30

Better than: A 45-minute R. Kelly show.

It's probably fitting that R. Kelly is opening his shows with a black-and-white film, starring him, one where he's at first bummed out while dressed to the nines and sitting at a bar—but then through the help of remembering his past glories, the tours that have taken him all over the world, he comes out of his funk and gets ready to show the world his performing bona fides.


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100 & Single: Late Bloomer Nicki Minaj Scores Summer Smash Off Aging Album

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Imagine if People named an actor "Sexiest [Gender] Alive" months before he or she had released a hit movie or TV show. It's not unthinkable, certainly—think back to the '90s and the Julia Ormonds and Skeet Ulrichs who scored Next Big Thing magazine covers before face-planting in a flop movie—but it's damned unlikely. Usually chart-topping, newsstand-blanketing fame comes after the public has gone gaga for the emerging star's wares.

In music, it's a lot easier to be a best-seller without blanketing the airwaves. Generations of quirky rock acts, from Jethro Tull in the '70s to the Arcade Fire in 2010, have topped the Billboard album chart without even scraping the Hot 100. But pop, R&B and hip-hop acts generally live and die by the single; hit songs lead to hit albums, full stop.

Nicki Minaj spans all of these genres; she's a new queen of hip-hop who sings like an R&B diva and aspires to pop domination. If anyone should need a big radio hit to become a best-selling star, it's her. So it's a total head-scratcher that only this week, Minaj scores her first Top 10 pop hit—a year after she dropped her first major-label single, and more than four months after Pink Friday topped the album chart.

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R. Kelly Is Hanging On The Telephone

Categories: R. Kelly, Video

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R. Kelly's 2010 album Love Letter sparkles with old-school tropes from top to bottom, so it makes sense that he'd go back to the time when terrestrial radio still mattered for the video for the pleading "Radio Message." He somehow manages to parlay calling into a Chicago radio station at precisely the right time into an opportunity to command the airwaves with a full-on song for the woman he wronged, who just happens to be driving around the Chicagoland area at the precise moment of his call. (That the DJ lets him stay on the line for as long as he does stretches credibility a bit, although would you hang up on those pipes? I wouldn't—especially given that "Radio Message" is one of those instantly catchy sort of pleas that you have to hear all the way through its close.) Clip below.


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Animal Collective And Cut Copy To Play (Separate) Shows At Prospect Park; R. Kelly Will Be At The Prudential Center

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People have lots of strong opinions about the musical outfit that goes by the name Animal Collective, and expect those comment-section arguments to rage now that the band has taken it upon itself to tour this summer. (Brooklyn Vegan's already lighting up! Can someone get me some hummus?) So far they've announced a single New York date, a Celebrate Brooklyn! benefit taking place on the evening of July 12 at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Tickets to the show go on presale at noon today, and are $40.80 with fees; the rest of you can get your tickets beginning Friday at noon.

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Was 2010 The Best Year For Music Ever? American Idol Wobbles, R&B Thrives, And The '90s Rise Again

Welcome to Sound of the City's year-in-review rock-critic roundtable, an amiable ongoing conversation between five prominent Voice critics: Rob Harvilla, Zach Baron, Sean Fennessey, Maura Johnston, and Rich Juzwiak. We'll be here all week!

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At least one song on this record is really good!
Gentlemen,

If I had to pick one example of hashtag rap that I liked more than any other, it would probably be Nicki Minaj's "And I just be coming off the top -- asbestos," from Young Money's "Bedrock," if only because of its somewhat feminist implications. The song reached No. 2 on the Hot 100! Surely that must represent some strike in favor of female sexual empowerment. (Or maybe radio listeners finally realized the charms of Lloyd, whose silky come-ons were also available on "Lay It Down," one of the many r&b songs from this year with which I had passionate, intense flings.)

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Watch R. Kelly Kick Off the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

The song is "Sign of a Victory," R. Kelly's Soweto Spiritual Singers-assisted bonkers paean to the evils of global warming and the glory of rainbows, the light at the end of the tunnel, the spirit of nations, sung with the bombastic, reality-denying conviction that is Kelly's signature. He performed it in front of 84,490 people at Soweto's Orlando Stadium at the start of the World Cup festivities today, but Kellz has been preparing for this moment a long time: in order to write "Sign of A Victory," he told the Wall Street Journal, Kelly ran drills with the Chicago Fire soccer team, watched Invictus, and "bought some books about soccer from Borders." Now look where he is. Make sure to watch to the end the clip, when the South African version of Bumblebee Man shows up, and Kellz finishes--how else?--on his knees.

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