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CD Review 

by Alexandra Holt

Back after a break from the music business (to take care of a few well-publicized legal matters), the King of R & amp;B, R. Kelly, has made a miraculous comeback with his new album, Chocolate Factory, which includes an entire bonus CD, Loveland, containing six extra tracks.

Avid R & amp;B listeners are sure to have heard the current hit single from the new album, "Ignition Remix," on the radio. It's reassuring to know there is more where that came from.

The now infamous Kelly, whose past sensual R & amp;B hits include the sizzling "Bump & amp; Grind" and the passionate "Down Low," has created another sexually charged album. With lyrics like "Anything you want/ You just come to daddy," Kelly seems to be ignoring or even maybe mocking the charges (allegations he participated in child pornography) that are being brought against him.

This album is packed with Kelly's mix of fervent slow jams and rhythmic hip-hop ballads, which will appeal to old and new fans alike. Yet there seems to be an obvious attempt here to tone down the raunch. New soulful grooves like "Heart of a Woman" and "You Made Me Love You" are key examples of Kelly's growing lyrical and musical maturity. And regardless of what you may think about Kelly's criminal charges, you can not deny that this 17-track album has topped the "pied piper of R & amp;B's" (as Kelly calls himself) previous joints and jams. (The Billboard charts' Top 200 certainly agreed, with Chocolate Factory firmly planted in the No. 3 position and steadily climbing.)

"This album was designed to make you feel good," Kelly says himself on the 13th track "Step In The Name Of Love (Remix)." "For those who want to feel good, follow me."

So where exactly are we following him? Not to his impending court case. It seems that Kelly has chosen to leave his troubles behind, while he continues to focus on what he does best, creating some of the finest beats and lyrical prose known to the R & amp;B community.

Be sure to grab this one (and your favorite person), turn the lights down, light some candles and pop in Chocolate Factory. Both this and Loveland will take you on an incredible ride through Kelly's brilliant and exotically driven subconscious and leave you wanting more. n

Publication date: 03/27/03
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