Analyzing R Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” Video

28 07 2010

When I was in Sixth grade we sang “I Believe I Can Fly” at our graduation. The completion of a Sixth grade commencement ceremony is a real turning point in a young man’s life so it’s only natural that the song still means a lot to me today.  Watch the video. Reflect. Scroll down and read my notes. Rewatch the video and re-reflect.

0:05 – R Kelly, in a harvested corn field, sings that he used to think that life was just “an awful song.”  R Kelly in the old cornfield represents the fact that he is depressed and alone. Imagine if he was a in a field where corn was still growing.  That wouldn’t make any sense at all.  “Hey, Mr. Kelly. Why the long face? The corn hasn’t even been harvested yet. There is still plenty of corn.”

0:33 – I really like how it’s revealed that R. Kelly is wearing a super odd, zebra striped jacket with very ordinary blue jeans.  It’s almost if he’s saying, “Yes, it’s obvious that I’m a celebrity because I’m wearing a Zebra jacket, but I’m also just a regular guy who wears blue jeans.  Just a regular guy singing in a cornfield.”

1:26 – It looks like R Kelly is preparing for a Karate Kid style Crane Kick here.  It may just be a funny angle, but it’s nice to think that R Kelly could be doing this as an homage. You’re all right LaRusso!

1:36 – R Kelly wears his Zebra jacket in the woods.  I like to pretend that two guys were hunting in these woods and accidentally shot R Kelly because they thought he was a Zebra.

Hunter 1: Hey! It’s a Zebra.

Hunter 2: Got em’. (Shoots and they walk up to their kill.)

Hunter 1: Woah, woah this is not a Zebra.

Hunter 2: Yeah, I know. Hmm. I think this  is R Kelly.

Hunter 1: The singer?

Hunter 2: Yeah. R&B and Hip Hop, mostly.

Hunter 1: Well…I thought it was a Zebra.

Hunter 2: It wasn’t. It’s R Kelly. Zebras don’t live in the woods in New Hampshire.

Hunter 1: Nope, I guess they don’t. Shit.

2:02 – This was R Kelly’s first “wooh!”  It was really small.  An appetizer, if you will, for the main course.

2:50 – Another really small “wooh!” Possibly even smaller than the first at 2:02. Staying in the appetizer motif I’d have to describe it as the crackers you sprinkle into the soup at a shitty restaurant.

3:03 – Now R Kelly’s conducting a choir and an orchestra. This guy’s a real Renaissance man. The dude’s half Leonardo DaVinci and half Barack Obama. And I’m talking about the 1990s Barack Obama who did a lot of blow.

3:06 – A slightly bigger “wooh!” Start getting ready for the steak, my friends.

3:21 – A decent sized “wooh!” The last sip of your first glass of wine before your meal arrives. The calm before the storm.

3:47 – R Kelly gives the choir a thumbs up that signifies his appreciation for their short repeat of “I-Can-Fly!” I bet after the shoot one choir member came up to another and said this…”Can you believe R Kelly gave us that thumbs up? That was cool. He seems like a really nice, down to earth guy. I hope he doesn’t pee on any underage girls in like ten years because that would totally not be cool.”

4:25 – The last “wooh!” It wasn’t huge, but it was full of emotion. Note the strain in his voice and understand that how important this “wooh” is to him. It was what  we’ve been waiting for. The moment where R Kelly showed us that he now truly believed he could fly, but still maintained a hint of vulnerability. Well done, sir.

What an oustanding video and song.  Looking back now I see again that it was truly worthy of my Sixth grade commencement ceremony.  Now I leave you with this last thought.  The great Hype Williams directed this video. R Kelly directed Trapped in the Closet. Who is the next great artist?


Hype Williams>R Kelly>You????




3 responses

28 07 2010
Pat Mucha


Do you have any other thoughts on R Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet?” I know it’s a “hip-H-opera” and that he brandishes his gun in many unnecessary scenarios, and that there’s a drinking game mainly based on his propensity to do so.

But I’ve never seen it.

Any thoughts or suggestions?


28 07 2010

I could do an R Kelly series where we explore “Trapped in the Closet” and more of R Kelly’s stuff. “Trapped in the Closet” has been talked about ad nauseum, but I’m sure we could find a new angle.

2 08 2010

I’ve always wanted to better understand the “wooh”s in this song…the dinner metaphor really cleared things up…thank you CCTT.

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