Rolling Stone - p.1403 stars out of 5
- "HAPPY PEOPLE aims for dancing and romancing, while U SAVED ME calls for fervent prayer....Kelly is the master of the ultra-slow groove, and the songs on U SAVED ME take their time, then use gospel's strategic buildups to sweep Kelly towards faith."
Entertainment Weekly - p.122
"Kelly knows record making. The songs, all of which he wrote and produced, have a clean and fluid directness." - Grade: B+
Uncut - p.1204 stars out of 5
- "HAPPY PEOPLE is an extraordinarily buoyant record giving off irresistible party vibes..."
Personnel: R. Kelly (vocals); Donnie Lyle (vocals, guitar, bass instrument, background vocals); Kendall D. Nesbitt (vocals, keyboards); Abel Garibaldi, Nathan Wheeler (vocals, programming, background vocals); Uncle Life (vocals, background vocals); Kelly Price (vocals); Gregg Landfair (guitar); Rodney East (keyboards); Steve Bearsley, Andy Gallas, Ian Mereness, Jason Mlodzinski (programming).
Audio Mixers: R. Kelly; Abel Garibaldi; Ian Mereness.
Recording information: Conway Studios, Hollywood, CA; The Chocolate Factory, Chicago, IL; The Studio, Philadelphia, PA.
Illustrator: Dee Dee.
Photographer: Riesig & Taylor.
Unknown Contributor Role: Omar Gilbert.
Arranger: R. Kelly.
R. Kelly's music is sometimes hard to separate from his borderline-absurd real-life misadventures, since his alleged misdeeds inevitably inform his recordings. While most artists are influenced by life unfolding around them, few people's private worlds bleed into their creative work in such a public and chaotic way. Heart-on-sleeve emotion has been a hallmark of Kelly's music, and as scandal has surrounded him, so have heartfelt pleas of forgiveness and repentance.
His ambitious 2004 double record, HAPPY PEOPLE/U SAVED ME, can be seen as a reaction to/against all this drama. The titles reflect the music within to perfection, the former containing infectious celebrations of life and love, the latter every inch a traditional gospel/soul record. When freeing himself to party on HAPPY PEOPLE, Kelly lets loose a torrent of catchy, groove-laden love songs, most notably the clever "Love Signals." On U SAVED ME, he gains gravity with a solemn grace that transcends his troubles, making a credible artistic conversion.