Is R. Kelly Advanced?
Damn. With the all-capitals formatting of the title you can’t tell that “Advanced” is capitalized. It’s supposed to look like this:
Is R. Kelly Advanced?
This clarification is necessary because the uppercase version of Advanced means something different than the lowercase version. Well, what is this difference? What does “Advanced” mean? I’m glad I asked! Chuck Klosterman introduced the masses to this theory with his Esquire article Real Genius: An introduction to the highly advanced theory of Advancement, an entirely new way to appreciate Sting, Val Kilmer, C-Murder, and other profound artists. It is highly recommended reading, but if you’re short on time (why are you visiting this utterly nonessential website?), here are some quotes:
Advancement is a cultural condition in which an Advanced individual—i.e., a true genius—creates a piece of art that 99 percent of the population perceives to be bad. However, this is not because the work itself is flawed; this is because most consumers are not Advanced. Now, don’t assume this means that everything terrible is awesome, or vice versa… The key to Advancement is that Advanced artists a) do not do what is expected of them but also b) do not do the opposite of what is expected of them.
The most Advanced hard-rock album ever was Music from "The Elder," by Kiss, the soundtrack for a movie that does not exist. Last year, rapper C-Murder was charged with murder. If you name yourself C-Murder and then you actually murder someone, consider yourself Advanced.
The bottom line is this: When a genius does something that appears idiotic, it does not necessarily mean he suddenly sucks. What it might mean is that he’s doing something you cannot understand, because he has Advanced beyond you.
It is my opinion that R. Kelly’s recent and bombastic 5-part saga, “Trapped in the Closet,” is undeniably and fantastically Advanced. The first time I heard Chapter 1 on the radio I had to stay in my car in the parking lot to finish listening to the song, in slack-jawed awe. The DJ then put the icing on the cake afterwards by stating, “Say what you will about R. Kelly, but the man is a musical genius.”
For clarification on this matter I e-mailed the co-founder of Advancement Theory, Jason Hartley (who runs the Advanced Theory Blog, which documents the transgressions of various Advanced artists), and he told me that if I felt I had a case for R’s Advancement, then I should put it forth. Well here it is: the Pied-Piper of R&B is not only Advanced, he may one day be inducted into the Advanced hall-of-fame.
Now I was going to engage in a long and academic discourse on this topic (that’s redundant–how many academic discourses are “short”?), but then I was hit by a different and unfortunate R. Kelly idea, which will be coming soon. If you have not heard “Trapped in the Closet,” or seen the accompanying long-form music video, I strongly suggest you visit R-Kelly.com and watch (and listen). Prepare to have your mind blown by Advancement in action.
UPDATE: If you have difficulty following the labyrinthian plot, please refer to these excellent cliff notes, which were posted the day after I wrote this. The plot is not actually complex, besides the parts that make no sense, but these cliff notes are very funny.