When R. Kelly first released his “Trapped In The Closet” series in 2005, the R&B-musical-meets-tongue-in-cheek-soap-opera was viewed as both groundbreaking and a joke unworthy of the Chicago icon’s immense musical talents. But according to Kelly—who is currently finishing up his upcoming summer album Black Panties—critics of the 33-chapter “Trapped” series (which ended in 2102) continue to have it all wrong.
“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about ‘Trapped In The Closet,’" Kelly explains to VIBE. He even goes as far to compare his left field creation with the discovery of flight. “It’s no different than when someone came into the room and said, ‘I got a great idea about how to fly,’ he says with no hint of irony. ‘I call these things wings…this is called a plane. It will actually fly in the air and get you to a certain destination.’ Now people were looking at [the inventor] like he was crazy [laughs]. They looked at him like, ‘We don’t understand any of this.’ That’s how some people viewed ‘Trapped In The Closet.’"
He continues: "It’s different…it’s new; it’s unique; it’s alien. But you keep looking at it.’” Indeed, Kelly, who tops VIBE’s ‘20 Greatest Musical Geniuses Since 1993' list, says he never expected such a polarizing reaction to the laughable tale of Sylvester, Cathy, Gwendolyn, Twan, and a scene-stealing midget.
“You are always going to have the negative and the positive,” he says. "‘Trapped In The Closet’ is something I didn’t even expect. It is strange, but if you are going to be called a genius—which I don’t think of myself as—then you have to [break those barriers]. You can’t hate on that. You have to respect a person willing to sacrifice their career to try something new… something entertaining. You can say a lot about ‘Trapped In The Closet.’ But the one thing you can’t say is it’s not entertaining. And aren’t we in the entertainment business?”—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)