WIRTB Review: Unfinished Business

In the early 2000s, there were certain things in hip-hop that were taken to be truths. For instance, Eminem was a vulgar-ass white guy, but he was one of the best lyricists people'd seen. Tupac was still bound to drop an album or two, even though he'd been dead since 1996. And, of course, Jay Z and R. Kelly were two of the biggest artists from their respective genres, both achieving a large amount of crossover success. So, 2002's The Best of Both Worlds was a given (the 2000s were also the time of the mashup/duet album). And while it had some hiccups, most people would argue that it was a solid album. A bit slow and overrated at times because of who was on the album, but solid nonetheless.

I've got a point. Stick with me.After TBOBW, shit got real. For starters, R. Kelly's sex crimes issue gained traction. People, for whatever unholy reason, were actually selling this tape of Kellz (allegedly, to avoid me getting sued for libel) pissing on a teenage girl. And his image was, in some ways, tarnished. To this day, because of the way he kind of skated past everything (allegedly, to avoid me getting sued for libel), and, in some ways, flaunts his "not guilty" verdict, people consider him "one of the worst human beings of all-time." Oh, and there was something about a Black Album

Anyway, somewhere along the line, Jay and R. Kelly--or maybe it was their management/labels--said that "hey, fuck it. Let's go ahead and do another Best of Both Worlds using the same format, same producers--hell, some of the same songs in theory and execution. People will eat this shit up! Plus, ya know, we've got this tour we need to promote/use to possibly pay Kellz' legal fees." So...was 2004's Unfinished Business really that bad of an album?

In a word, yes. In more than one word? Oh, hell to the motherfuckin' yeah. It was that bad. You can just feel the "phone-home" factor on every song. While it did generate "Don't Let Me Die," one of the hits from the album, even that song had questionable moments. For instance, R. Kelly's verse. You know, 2004 me, I enjoyed this song. It probably had something to do with the fact they played it a million and three times, sometimes back-to-back. Then again, I also enjoyed chasing after young women who wore pink jean jackets. The instrumental is kind of basic, Jay sounds uninspired (yes, worse that MCHG), and R. Kelly's verse is...no, just no.

The rest of the album doesn't fare much better and almost instantaneously shows its age whenever it pops up on your playlist. To sum up the album, it's R. Kelly and Jay Z playing "Who Can Execute the Rap Cliche Better?" for about 45 minutes. Who wins? Who the fuck cares? We all lose. Even if The Best of Both Worlds wasn't perfect, it at least provided comedy for when it faltered. Here, it's an awkward presentation of why you can't strike lightning twice, especially if the first time wasn't all that great to begin with.

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