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Schoolboy Q sans bucket hat

The line stretched for almost a full city block. Among the throngs of fans waiting to get in to see Schoolboy Q were bucket hats – a lot of bucket hats. It was almost like a show of solidarity. You couldn’t mistake the fact of who these people came to see. Yet after the headliner took the stage, you wouldn’t be faulted if you felt like he wasn’t the main attraction.

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R&B has been at an interesting crossroads in 2013, with many new acts incorporating gender-bending vocals, subject matter about an artist’s sexual orientation and experimentation in weird, dark soundscapes. It may seem like a rather odd time for R. Kelly to jump back in the swing of things and record another album to give to the masses. But evidence suggests that this is probably the most opportune. From sharing the stage at Coachella with Phoenix to releasing a flock of doves during the Pitchfork Music Festival, Kelly has been received by crowds with all the enthusiasm of people who act like they’ve been sexually repressed for decades. This has translated into the surprise success that Kelly’s collaboration with Lady Gaga on “Do What U Want” has seen in recent months. The world wants the directness of R. Kelly again, and R. Kelly is what they get with Black Panties, perversion and all.

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