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After two terrific retro-soul records, R. Kelly unleashes his hedonistic side, reminding all of today’s boundary-pushing pop stars who taught them how to get their freak on. The culture police might have hemorrhages listening to these uncensored tracks, but anyone with a sense of humor and an appreciation for smartly crafted mainstream R&B will appreciate the singer-songwriter’s return to his wild ways. The gleefully salacious songs, filled with double entendres, are smoothly executed while sidestepping smarminess (you listening, Robin Thicke?). When Kelly goes completely over-the-top with “Marry the [Expletive],” it borders on the ridiculous. Mostly, though, he’s playfully pushing the envelope, especially on the new anthems for bedroom creativity, “Crazy Sex” and “Every Position.” On the wink and nod “Cookie,” he makes us forever rethink the Oreo. Kelly gets sidetracked on “Shut Up” lecturing his haters — it’s a clear buzzkill that should have been cut. At one point Kelly sings, “No offense to other artists. . . / let’s be honest/ how many babies been made off of me?” Expect a lot more now. (Out Tuesday) KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL "Crazy Sex"


Ken Capobianco can be reached at franznine@live.com.