R. Kelly, The Best Of Both Worlds
Spoiling good with this shoddily written, childish album
Jay-Z's solo albums are often beautifully conceived projects, driven by a keen understanding of his own place in the firmament and a vision for the future. But this team-up album with R&B titan R. Kelly revealed some ill-considered thinking for an artist who had been on an undisrupted joy ride for nearly six years. Just three months after the triumph of his Unplugged album, Jay-Z spoiled good will with this shoddily written, childish album. R. Kelly is as energetic and insinuating-bordering-on-creepy as ever, but Jay-Z is on cruise control, lazily writing almost exclusively about siring women without the wit that made such vagaries forgivable and, in many cases, exciting in the past. The prime culprits: the Trackmasters, who had been absent from Jay's career for years until this fiasco. Their hollow, cut-rate, Flamenco guitar-stuffed productions sound instantly dated and Jay, who struggles to rise to the occasion when the sound isn't there, air-balled right when it seemed like he couldn't miss.