The "R." In R&B Collection, Vol. 1

If only you could separate the music from the man. In an era of hip-hop excess, Chicago's R. Kelly held a torch for vintage soul, updated for the streets. 2000's "I Wish" remains one of the great fallen-buddy tributes, and "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time" is a stately gem. In light of Kelly's legal troubles, though, listening to his more provocative material — and most of it is just that — can be grueling. "Honey Love," "Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)," "Sex Me": the sundry permutations of Kelly's love engine boggle the mind. He even plans a legal-defense strategy on "Bump n' Grind — Old School Mix": "Show me some ID, before I get knee-deep into ya." Unfortunately, that line was from 1993. Whoops.

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