R. Kelly: Trapped In The Closet - Chapters 1-22
R. Kelly, Victor Mignatti & Jim Swaffield, US, 2005-2007, 85'
In 2005, R. Kelly started “Trapped in the Closet”, a five-part video clip with a continuous storyline that grew into a rap opera of initially 12 and then 22 chapters. In essence, “Trapped in the Closet” is an endless R & B song, on one monotonous bass beat, without chorus and with the structure of a soap series, including a cliff hanger at the end of each episode. The title refers to the lover who has to hide in a closet when his mistress’s husband arrives on the scene out of the blue. Kelly himself plays the unfortunate protagonist and, along with the other actors, mimes the lyrics, sung in perfectly oiled vocal chords. The bling bling associated with his music style results in a ‘plot’ that revolves around adultery, weapons and beautiful babes. Soon, the series goes into overdrive with story lines about corrupt cops, horny neighbours, dwarfs, whores, circus animals, and triangular and quadrilateral relationships that are so complex that digital family trees are needed to clarify who is doing it with whom.
The exorbitant universe created by Kelly is so over the top that public reactions range from awe and hysterical fascination to complete disapproval and bewilderment, from ‘the new Monteverdi or Dostoevski’ to ‘so bad that it's going to be good’. The fact is that “Trapped in the Closet” is hilarious, moronic and brilliant all at the same time, and that the ‘hip hopera’ – with its 33 episodes since 2012 and another 40 to go – has made it to the status of wrong cult classic.
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