After numerous delays, and rumors that it would never see the light of day, R. Kelly's memoir Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me has finally hit the shelves. And so it was with flushed anticipation that I obtained the only copy on the shelf at Powell's, anxious for insight into the mind of the man who produced numerous, genuinely awesome #1 hits, as well as the inexplicable Trapped in the Closet, the first installment of which still really holds up, especially after you've had a few and suddenly realize that the cop is played by OMAR.
The content within though is less than compelling. The accounts of his childhood, career, legal troubles, beef with Jay-Z, and other no doubt complicated ordeals are cursory, free of any detail that might reflect badly on R. I guess it's naive to expect a highly controversial and narcissistic pop culture figure to let loose with the pathos, or even possess the self awareness to do so. Startling episodes such as the tragic death of his girlfriend when he was eight years old are genuinely touching, but it takes all of three pages to tell it. And naturally, as Josh Levin notes on Slate, there is no mention whatsoever of the nature of his constant legal complaints, all of which had to do with the sexual coercion of underage girls.
Like he doesn't even mention Aaliyah! And they were married.
The printing is unusually high quality, filled with large glossy photos of Kells on stage, sweating earnestly and draped in furs and sequined tuxedos, or smiling as a little boy.
The nature of R. Kelly's strange career that gave me some unrealistic expectations. I take songs like "I'm a Flirt" and "Bump N Grind" at face value. (I would not bring my girlfriend to dinner with R. Kelly. Well, maybe I would.) But this self-aggrandizing "memoir" only serves to talk about Kelly's love of God, his mother, music, and basketball. (He says he could have gone pro.)
For the gist of the prose, check out Gary Oldman reading a passage on Jimmy Kimmel live last week. They could have probably found a better passage but points for the Tupac appearance.