Yesterday, Chapter 13, the first new installment of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet since 2005, went up online at IFC.com. Thank the Lord it’s finally here. I’m with my colleague Chris Schonberger — when it comes to pop culture this summer, this is a bigger deal than Harry Potter. Trapped is an epic, maybe the first masterpiece anyone’s ever conceived for the YouTube ethos, and R., its genius, is so very brilliantly and inscrutably insane. He’s “crazier than a fish with titties,” to borrow a line from his character Sylvester in this new episode. Is R. for real? Is he in on the joke? WHO KNOWS? That’s the beauty of it.
Plus, the thing’s so intricately conceived, not to mention hilarious. In this new episode, we follow Sylvester as he heads out with his brother-in-law Twan to do some business, and we also meet Rosie the Nosy Neighbor and her fat husband Randolph (also played by Kelly). Too soon to tell where these threads will take us, so for the time being luxuriate in the way that Kelly unspools his velvety yet ridiculous rhymes. Best part of Chapter 13 is when Rosie and Randolph are arguing, and Randolph says he hopes a pigeon’ll fly and “s—” on her face. “If it do, if it do,” Kelly-as-Rosie sings in response, “I’m gonna wipe the s— on you!”
In reporting a First Look on the new chapters for the magazine a couple weeks back, I learned that coming up is a church-choir number that Kelly recorded all 50 vocal tracks for. In other words, in keeping with him doing every single voice on Trapped, he plays all 50 members of the choir. That will be nothing less than incredible. Dude is crazy. Or is he?