A new "Hair" style for unsinkable R. Kelly

Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:48am EDT
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By Gail Mitchell

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Leave it to R. Kelly to come up with a song about something as innocuous as a woman braiding hair.

But given the success he's crafted out of subjects ranging from a seemingly innocent one-night stand (the 22-chapter "Trapped in the Closet") to a popular Chicago dance craze ("Step in the Name of Love"), the early buzz on the new single "Hair Braider" isn't surprising.

Despite a protracted six-year fight against child pornography charges, Kelly hasn't missed a step musically. In 2007, he scored three top 10 singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart either as a singer or writer/producer: "Go Getta" with Young Jeezy, "I'm a Flirt" with T.I. and T-Pain and "Same Girl" featuring Usher.

The sensual, vocoder-accented "Hair Braider" is currently at No. 58. Meanwhile his remix of Mariah Carey's hit, "Touch My Body," was also recently released.

With his May 9 trial date approaching, Kelly isn't doing any interviews. But he is said to be planning a summer release for his next album, "12 Play: Fourth Quarter." His most recent album, 2007's "Double Up," has sold 935,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Pressed for further details about the new album, his label says only that the label is working the single and a formal release date has not been set. A video for "Hair Braider" was shot last month in Chicago by director Malcolm Jones.