When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
These are powerful words. Some might feel like these words, which open the Declaration of Independence, are among the most important words in our nation’s history. I would be hard-pressed to argue. However, I believe that it’s another set of opening lines that deliver the emotion we all need to truly highlight the human experience. They come from a song so rich with emotion, imagery, and turmoil that it ought to be our nation’s anthem. It begins…
“What up, Kells?”
The song is “Same Girl” by R. Kelly, featuring the vocal stylings of Usher. It is, by any account, incredible. If you don’t remember it, you should be ashamed of yourself, but you should also watch the video.
My god. It’s beautiful. The only way to truly break this thing down is to offer a running diary of the video just three weeks before the tenth anniversary of the song’s German release date. Ostensibly, we’ll be answering the question we’ve answered before: Does this piece of art withstand the test of time?
The answer? Oh boy. Let’s dive in.
0:07 – “Story written by R. Kelly?” What does that mean? He didn’t write the lyrics, he just came up with this idea about possibly dating the same girl as one of his friends? I love this already.
0:23 – Cleveland shout-out! Just two years before this video, Usher became a minority owner in the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s the only reason he name-dropped Cleveland.
0:33 – We get it. You both have very cool homes.
0:37 – Now we’re getting somewhere! Cell phone usage in movies/videos is a bad choice. It doesn’t age well. Viewers get distracted thinking about how outdated the technology looks and forget to focus on the fact that R. Kelly is scrolling through a contact list that includes Joanne, Shanee, Twon, Studio, and Usher. It’s not “recently contacted” and it’s CLEARLY not in alphabetical order. What is going on here?
0:46 – Oh no. “Kell’s.” Our first grammatical mistake. I guess maybe it is Kell’s phone number, but that would mean he calls R. Kelly “Kell” and not “Kells.”
0:53 – Nope. Usher calls him “Kells.” Also, Usher picks up the phone, doesn’t say anything, and Kells starts talking. That’s outstanding.
1:00 – Okay, we’ve seen the woman now. She’s a looker, sure, but we are to understand that Usher is in Atlanta and R. Kelly is in Chicago, right? Why is it light outside for Usher and dark for Kells? Are we in a time paradox? We must be in a time paradox. Earth’s laws of physics can’t handle the perfection of this song and video.
1:09 – Ush gets his first suspicion! His sing-songy “What?” while he leans forward in his chair is grade-A acting. Furthermore, he pretty quickly seems to have a good nature about this.
1:22 – The interrogation! Aziz Ansari famously did a standup bit about R. Kelly and mentions how R. Kelly doesn’t talk like a normal human being talks. Usher is afflicted with R. Kelly syndrome here, and I love it. They are literally just talking, but singing. “Do she got a kid?” Yep. “Love some Waffle House?” Yep.
This song was certified gold as a single.
1:26 – R. Kelly says “Maaannnn” because he now knows something is up. Ush is describing Kells’ girl in intimate detail. Hold this thought.
1:35 – “Tell me what’s wrong, dawg, what the hell ya damnin’ bout? I’m yo homie so just say what’s on yo mind,” is the most touching moment of this whole song, but it has a clear flaw. Kells, who just nine seconds ago was onto something, now has no idea why Ush is upset. He is clueless. He’s there for his friend, but he’s clueless. This is incredible.
1:46 – “Do I know her? Like a pastor know his word.” Could this be an impressive pun on knowing her in the biblical sense (If you don’t know, “knowing” someone biblically means having had sex with them)? If yes, that’s a great piece of wordplay that took me ten years to figure out.
2:16 – Coming out of the chorus we have our heroes in Atlanta, telling how they met this girl. Believe it or not, they’re singing what is clearly just dialogue. I love this so much.
2:23 – We see what kinds of parties these guys like. R. Kelly prefers an all-white party by the pool while Ush is a club kind of guy. Considering pools in Chicago are only open for four to five months out of the year, I can see why someone might want to take advantage, but after living in Chicago for four years, I’m pretty confident about that pool not existing in Chicago.
2:28 – Ush parties at the club by just having $100 bills falling from the sky. Good to know.
2:53 – Note: If you send sexy photos of yourself to Ush and/or Kells, you have no expectation of privacy. I don’t think you’d expect it, but this just confirms it. They’re showing you off.
3:07 – I think Ush thinks this is fun. He’s kind of smirking as they’re having a fireside chat. R. Kelly is calling this woman the apple of his eye and his potential wife, and Ush is like “Man, she’s hot. This is funny.” I’m taking Ush’s side.
3:22 – An inexplicable “Cheers!” They’re upset, so they cheers their Cognac in giant leather chairs next to a fireplace. If that doesn’t scream “hip hop” then I just don’t know what does.
3:29 – PLAY SOME FUCKING DEFENSE, KELLS.
3:43 – The plan is about to start. This is gonna be great. What are they gonna come up with?
3:57 – Okay so the plan is the three-way calling attack from Mean Girls. And then one of them will invite her out and the other will show up. This is the best they could come up with? This is infinitely simpler than a Scooby Doo plot…but they’re so excited about it. That excitement is refreshing, isn’t it?
4:17 – The moment of truth. Look at these smug assholes, knowing they got her.
4:25 – Hang on. Why is there another set of high heels? The girl was already sitting down.
4:28 – WHAT?!
4:30 – Both guys just did an “Arms out, I’m an airplane!” maneuver and I cannot get enough of this video. It has everything.
4:34 – OH MY GOD THEY’RE TWINS. THEY HAVE NOT BEEN MESSING WITH THE SAME GIRL. THEY HAVE BEEN MESSING WITH TWINS WHO JUST LOOK LIKE THEY’RE THE SAME GIRL.
4:42 – Ahhh that was fun. Let’s all have a good laugh and realize that the fellas shared intimate details of their sex lives with each other!
Wow. What a ride. We’re done, right? Wrong. There’s still a lot at play here. First of all, without the video, the lyrics don’t say anything about them being twins – on the album this is just two guys who have been fooling around with the same girl. Which are we to believe? That the video tells the whole story or that the audio tells the whole story? I choose to believe the video because Kells has a habit of elaborate storytelling via video, lest we forget about Trapped in the Closet.
Second thing about the twins: They both live at Peace Street and 17th, both have tattoos on their ankles, share a car, and go by the same nickname, TT. They also both have a kid, love Waffle House (who doesn’t?), have beauty marks, and work for the same company in Atlanta. Was the one just randomly in Chicago or what?
Man. Did both ladies know about the other? They must both live in Atlanta, since they were both available for dinner, right? So the plan was to have Ush get his girl to come to dinner…wait…wait a sec, why is the second girl coming to dinner? Nobody invited her.
Wait a goddamn minute. Nobody invited the second girl. Why did Usher’s girl invite her sister to dinner, not knowing that Kells was gonna be there? This doesn’t add up at all. Did the girls outwit the fellas? Did she know that Kells was coming because the guys couldn’t keep everything straight and were too excited about their plan to hide it? What is going on here??
Also, special props to the ladies for their side-by-side moment at 4:34 when they each look at the correct singer. The woman on the left is looking across at Ush, who is on the left when the camera spins around. The woman on the right is also looking across at Kells. Great commitment to the role.
If I dig any deeper into this, my brain will explode. I’ll have to start reaching out to the actresses to see if this is green screen or if they’re actually twins (a quick Googling uncovers that it’s one actress, Shannon Williams). Let’s wrap this up.
Does it stand the test of time?
Oh my god, yes. I love this video more than I did one hour ago, and I’ve watched it several times this hour.