R. Kelly 12 Play: 4th Quarter

R. Kelly <i>12 Play: 4th Quarter</i>
I originally had something else planned for today's Click Hear and then "oops," R. Kelly's new album leaked without anyone expecting it.

There have been some speculations as to why we're seeing 12 Play: 4th Quarter appear ahead of its release. High profile albums like Kelly's don't usually leak so early without a release date scheduled, which has led fingers in the direction of the "King of R&B" himself as the culprit. Word on the street is that Kelly just isn't happy with his label, Jive, and this is some sort of statement demonstrating that. Another rumour floating around is that he just isn't that proud of the record and just decided to put it out there — outta sight, outta mind. I question the latter, considering he has three unreleased albums currently sitting in a vault somewhere.

12 Play has received mostly negative buzz around the blogosphere since it leaked Monday night (July 28). Ever since first single "Hair Braider" leaked there has been a lot of whinging about Kelly's abuse of the vocoder and how he's becoming T-Pain.

Having been found not guilty last month on all 14 counts of child pornography, it appears the pressure of being on trial and viewed as a monster by some hasn't made him sweat whatsoever. Instead, the last year has seen him lighten up, and arguably become more grounded after his last record, the mind-bending circus that was Double Up.

My biggest complaint with 12 Play is that nothing stands out. There's no obvious club banger, which hurts, considering he's also the "king" of those. On top of that, there's nothing too off-the-wall, like "Trapped in the Closet" or "Real Talk." In fact, the most interesting cuts seem to be the bonuses I found added by Dyfuse, which featured the catchiest song of the bunch, the light'n'cheesy, Caribbean "I Like Love," or what I thought would be the second single, the loopy, almost childlike "Body Body."

The overall impression isn't that positive. There are some tracks worth making your own iTunes EP out of but I'm sure the Pied Piper will be back with something much more twisted and flowing with hooks before we know it. That said, he'd be better off leaving this strictly as a leak, which could leave a better corpse as an online curiosity, and move on to his next one.

You can stream the entire thing, song by song, by clicking here.