The very first five chapters of R. Kelly’s hip hopera (his term), Trapped in the Closet, were released as audio tracks in spring of 2005 (the videos would come later that year) and let me tell you, that was a very special time, at least in my life. Back then, I was living with two roommates in a house in Michigan. Each week, one of my roommates, Travis, would come home from work around 11PM on Tuesday nights having downloaded the latest installment off of a message board. I’m not even sure how we played them on the stereo–this was before smartphones and everything, I think he might have actually burned each new track onto a CD-R. All I know is that he would come home with a precious new chapter that we had anxiously been anticipating for an entire week, friends would come over, and we would gather in the living room like some depression-era family waiting for the latest episode of The Shadow. We played the song SO LOUDLY, and we also played it MANY TIMES IN A ROW, savoring each turn in the narrative so that by the end we could sing along. This sounds like typical revisionist, nostalgic, blogger hyperbole, but I promise you it isn’t. Like I said, this was a very special time, because I had never experienced anything like this before or since. This is how the elders must have felt when they first heard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. I was way more excited to listen to new installments of Trapped in the Closet than I have ever been about, say, a new episode of Breaking Bad (and that includes season finales). I loved those first few chapters so much that I actually was non-plussed when R. Kelly released the first Trapped in the Closet DVD featuring an additional seven chapters because those were ONLY released with their accompanying music videos, and we couldn’t enjoy the sacred and hilarious ritual of downloading and enjoying the audio tracks in the same way.
Earlier this year, it was announced that R. Kelly would be releasing all new chapters on IFC. This is obviously great news, but it should also make everyone pause. We were pretty excited when those new Star Wars movies were going to come out, too, and look how that turned out. It is absolutely possible (and rather easy) to imagine R. Kelly pulling a Jar Jar Binks on this thing. But even more importantly, while this new leg of the journey will no doubt be funny and enjoyable, it will also be self-aware and drenched in anticipation. Is it even possible for Trapped in the Closet to recapture any of its earlier magic, or is it now a calcified pop cultural dinosaur? Fascinating but bloodless? Well, the entire series will be ready by Thanksgiving, but the first new chapter was leaked early, and you can watch it after the jump and decide for yourself.
OK, I take back everything that I just said. This is gonna b doooooooope. WHERE ARE YOU CHUUUUUUUUUUUUCK?! (Via Stereogum.)