This is a short entry, because I don’t want to give a mediocre R.Kelly penned (and featuring!) record much more attention than it deserves, which is basically none. Ja Rule’s shrewdness in picking collaborators has since become more widely understood, thanks to his involvement with Billy “Fyre Festival” McFarland and his fiasco of an event. In the fallout from that disaster, Rule was keen to present himself as at worst a dupe, an enthusiastic hypeman who – like so many others! – fell for the slick promises of promoter McFarland.

“Wonderful” casts him in a similar role, more a host for his song than the singer of it: the video has a glossy, brochure-like air, a set of vignettes of unbelievable opulence, through which Rule, R Kelly and Rule’s regular guest and hook-singer Ashanti glide. But the emotional centre is Kelly, in his ugly – and increasingly familiar, as the years went by and the charges mounted – guise as a black hole of self-obsessed, self-pitying vanity. If I wasn’t so unspeakably rich, the song asks, would you still love me? Everything about the track makes it clear the question is rhetorical.

Rule’s earlier hits with Ashanti and Jennifer Lopez – “Ain’t It Funny”, “Always On Time”, “Mesmerize” et al – are better than “Wonderful”: like LL Cool J a rap generation before he built a reputation as a hip-hop romantic, a gruff guy who’d lived the thug life but had a tender heart when it counted. Even those tunes had, for my taste, too much reliance on repeating a big sing-song chorus, but they had more soul than “Wonderful”, which like “My Place” and “Flap Your Wings” is an uninspired retread of better sounds. He promised a meal; he delivered bread and cheese in a takeout box.

Score: 3

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