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R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)" Is Now Ten Years Old

By Drew Millard

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Ten years ago, Robert Sylvester Kelly gave the world a gift. Usually he didn't do it, but he decided to break us off a little preview of the remix. And then he just let us have the whole damn thing in one of the world's most striking displays of magnanimity since God gave us his only son. The "Ignition" remix is literally a flawless song, a document of pure joy whose existence is even more rare and blessed given that the original "Ignition" is only a mid-tier R. Kelly song about fucking. Kelly's brilliance is that he managed to isolate the best elements of "Ignition"—namely the little wa-wa guitars in the build-up to the chorus and the phrase, "We thuggin' it out"—and built an entirely different and altogether better song out of it.

There's a lot to love with the "Igition" remix, as well as its video. The fact that he lets you know it's the remix. How the, "Freakin' weekend, I'm about to have me some fun" line speaks to the intense strife we go through every week, the steam we all want to let off when the week's done. How the verses depict blips of an awesomely drunk night that ends in somebody fucking somebody else. When he rubs on his head even though he doesn't have an Afro during the, "Runnin' her hands through my 'fro" part, and then when he rubs some other dude's head for no reason. So much positive energy and straight-up love—even the weird geeky white kid gets to show off. Also, the entire video takes place in a gigantic stretch Jeep called CLUB JEEEEP.

And then there's this moment in the video where the camera rotates around his head:

[GIF by Sperry of itstheBino]

Perhaps, ultimately, the best person to tell you why the remix to "Ignition" is such a beautiful song is R. Kelly himself. Writing of the song's release in his memoir Soula Coaster: The Diary of Me, Kelly says:

The hottest song on Chocolate Factory was "Ignition." I revisited the metaphor I had started with "You Remind Me Of Something"—a woman and a car. I liked it so much I had to break off a remix and put it on the same album. In the remix, the groove got very danceable while the metaphors mixed together.

"You've lost your mind, Rob," the executive said when I told him I wanted to release "Ignition Remix" as my next single. "You can't release it with those lyrics."

"I can't change the lyrics," I said.

"Why?"

"'Cause they go with the song. They go with the mood."

"Maybe, but you've got to change the title. Given what you're facing now, you can't sing about sticking your key in the ignition."

"I don't see why not."

"They'll crucify you."

"I think the jam's so hot they'll have to play it," I said.

"I think it'll get you banned worse than before."

I didn't believe that. So I sneaked the cut to a disc jockey and asked him to test it on the air. That same night his phone lines lit up like a Christmas tree. People went crazy for it. I immediately made sure it was released all over the country, and the next thing I knew, it was sitting on top of the charts. The ban against me had been smashed by the power of music.

See, when Kellzodiac recorded the song, he was under fire for allegedly having sex with an underage girl. So he decided to make a song so good that it wouldn't matter how what kind of fire he was under, and see if the radio would play it. And it worked, because "Ignition (Remix)" is one of the most perfect songs of all time, one that you can play on an infinite loop until you die without it getting old. We salute you, R. Kelly, on your greatest creation's tenth birthday.

 

Drew recently wrote a week's worth of essays on R. Kelly and could honestly do more. He tweets - @drewmillard

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