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Music / Trapped in the Closet

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Serious Business: The Musical

Trapped in the Closet is a "hip-hopera" from R. Kelly, the first songs/videos of which were released in 2005. Dozens of further installments ("chapters") have been released since. The songs tell the story of Sylvester (played in the music videos by R. Kelly himself) and the crazy characters he encounters as a result of a one-night stand.

It has since become a cult classic, generally regarded as So Bad, It's Good. It's very clear from interviews that R. Kelly takes it perfectly seriously.

In October of 2012, R. Kelly started the continuation of Trapped In the Closet.


He walks up to the trope list! He just looks at the trope list! Stares real hard at the trope list! Maybe edits the trope list!:

  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle
  • Affably Evil: The Mafia and Beeno. Ultimately subverted with Beeno as he reveals that he knows Sylvester and Twan saw Joey, then tries to get them killed.
  • All Just a Dream: Chapter 21, where Sylvester and Twan's dealings with The Mafia go horribly wrong.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees:
    • Viewers of the South Park episode of the same name might be surprised to discover that, yes, this does exist; and no, the depiction of it on the episode wasn't exaggerated.
    • The same applies to "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody version, "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" — some were surprised that something so rambling and esoteric could actually be based on a real song.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Chapter 6, Sylvester tells Gwendolyn about what happened to him in the past 5 chapters. Gwendolyn comments, "Damn, you've been through a lot of shit." To which Sylvester replies "Plus, I got a ticket."
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: At one point, R. Kelly scratches his head with the barrel of his gun, in a manner very similar to characters in Plan 9 from Outer Space.
    • In fact, in Chapters 3-4, Sylvester basically breaks every rule in the gun safety handbook.
  • Ax-Crazy: Twan. He's supposedly trying to turn his life around but "kill everyone" seems to be his default solution to most problems.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Big Man, hence the name.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Twan and Sylvester when they burst into James's (the policeman's) house to save Bridget. Twan when he saves Sylvester and him from Beeno's goons.
  • Blast Out: With The Mafia... but fortunately, All Just a Dream. Not a dream with Beeno's goons. They nearly die.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Big Man shits himself when James pulls his gun on him.
  • Butt-Monkey: Twan gets no respect throughout the story, being portrayed as a hot-headed idiot. He even gets properly introduced by being shot by Slyvester/James. Though, he gets the last laugh; he is one of the few characters who don't have AIDS by the end of the story.
  • Chandler's Law: The number of time Sylvester just pulls his beretta to escalate a situation is quite high.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: There are no minor characters. Even the characters who at first seem only to exist for a single scene turn out to be sleeping with or have a history with the main characters.
  • Closet Shuffle: In the first episode, hence the title. It happens several more times: once with a closet again (Randolph), once with a kitchen cabinet (Big Man), and once with the Narrator narrating from a closet for no apparent reason. These reoccurrences are presumably to avoid an Artifact Title situation.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: People in blue or purple are bad news.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Inexplicably, when James is about to kill Big Man, Bridgette's first instinct is call her husband's lover for help and Sylvester and Twan decide to go stop the incident personally.
  • Cool Old Lady: Rosie the nosy neighbor.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "And then he continues to rough up the midget as if the midget was under attack."
    • "He walks up to the closet, He comes up to the closet"
    • "You looked like you'd seen a ghost come from the dead"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Lets just say the title can be pretty misleading.
    • Lampshaded early on when a pastor says "Well, since we're all comin' out the closet, I'm not about to be the only one who's broken-hearted." He then comes out of the closet.
  • Double Aesop: Cheating is bad. Especially when everybody does it. Even the guy with AIDS.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: When Chuck starts going into details about him and Rufus, Sylvester doesn't want to hear it.
    Sylvester: I said Brother spare me the details.
  • Entitled to Have You: Chuck declares that he has the right to love whoever he pleases and treats Rufus's wife like she's the interloper in their affair.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Pimp Lusius. Even his parents call him that!
  • Foreshadowing: When Sylvester comes out of the closet, he says Rufus looks like he's looking in a mirror, foreshadowing not just that Rufus is cheating on his wife too, but that Sylvester's going to be in this same situation soon.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Roxanne's weapon of choice.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: "Y'all lucky I like that kinda shit, or I'd be done shot both y'all ass."
  • Gunpoint Banter: It's not so much "banter" as it is melodrama, but...
  • Gun Struggle: Between James and Sylvester. Twan gets shot, but it's Only a Flesh Wound.
  • Heel Realization: Experienced by Sylvester, Rufus, and Cathy all at different points in the story.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Everyone is cheating on their spouse and everyone becomes enraged when they learn that their spouse is cheating on them.
    • Twan hates Roxanne and Tina for selling him out to the cops even though he attempted to pin his drug trafficking scheme on them.
  • Ikea Erotica: "Oh my goodness, I'm about to climax."
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Happens at one point as a consequence of Reckless Gun Usage, although the victim is none the worse for wear afterwards, and doesn't bear any ill will for having been shot.
  • Instant Illness: In period of seemingly less than twelve hours, Chuck goes from being strong enough to try and fight Cathy for Rufus to being wheelchair bound in the hospital due to AIDS.
  • Ironic Nickname: Subverted with Big Man, the midget. It's not ironic. It's just not referring to his height.
  • Kudzu Plot
  • Lemony Narrator: But in a humorously poorly done way. So much that eventually, after narrating in first person for several chapters, Sylvester abruptly starts referring to himself in the third person from then on.
    • He doesn't even start at any particular point. Take Chapter 11, where he switches between "Sylvester" and "I" almost every other line.
    • What's more, in the first chapter, he refers to Gwen in the second person, which is forgotten when she appears in the third.
  • Little People Are Surreal
  • Love Dodecahedron: Everybody's cheating on everybody with everyone.
  • Made of Iron: Twan, who shrugs off getting shot in the shoulder.
  • Mexican Standoff: REPEATEDLY.
  • Morality Ballad
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Thrives on it.
  • Never My Fault: It was Twan's plan to traffic drugs and it was his fault he got caught by smoking weed, driving drunk and erratically, and playing loud music. He refuses to acknowledge his responsibility and blames Roxanne and Tina for "selling him out" to the cops, even though he was prepared to pin the whole affair on them when given the chance.
  • N-Word Privileges: Sylvester and Twan call each other "nigga" so often that the song is NSFW at certain chapters.
  • Noodle Incident: Sylvester apparently did five years in prison for an unexplained crime.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Rosie, of course.
  • Oh, Crap!: Chapter 22, when everyone finds out Chuck has AIDS. Considering pretty much all of them are within three partners of him...
  • One Degree of Separation: Everyone in Chicago knows everyone else, or turns out to have some kind of deep connection to them.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: "We'd better get you to the hospital to check out that wound. / It's okay, it's just my shoulder, all I need is a bathroom."
    • The bandage then promptly disappears a couple chapters later, his shoulder looking unscathed.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Big Man again.
  • The Parody:
  • Pimp Duds: Downplayed. While Pimp Lucius does dress well, in a pastel suit and Homburg hat and some bling, his attire is no where near gaudy or outrageous, and his cane is a nondescript derby cane.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Twan. As soon as situations get tense, his solution is to kill everyone present.
  • Random Events Plot
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Sylvester pulls out his gun at any given opportunity, e.g. when annoyed or confused. He uses his gun to gesticulate, even to scratch his head.
  • The Reveal: One at the end of just about every chapter.
  • Revised Ending The alternate Chapter 12, performed at the VMAs, wraps up Cathy, Chuck, and Rufus's story. The final version, meanwhile, has Gwen interrupting the Epiphany Therapy with stories of midgets and policemen, allowing Rufus to make his choice much, much later in the story.
  • Right Through His Pants: The sex scene in chapter four.
  • Rock Opera: Or rather, "hip-hopera".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Attempted numerous times by Sylvester, and it usually gets worse once he leaves.
  • Serial Escalation: How many more characters are cheating on each other?
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: For no reason that will ever be made clear, Chapter 5 and Chapter 5 alone censors every expletive with a clip of R. Kelly making a little "doo" noise.
  • Strictly Formula: Every chapter has the exact same tune, just with different lyrics.
  • Third-Person Person: The singer (Sylester) sometimes refers to himself as "him" or "Sylester" while singing, while other times he says "I". This is obviously not intentional, just a side-effect of juggling characters while singing an extended song.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Twan.
    • Rosie, after hearing loud arguing and gunfire in her neighbor's house, chose to go over with nothing but a spatula to defend herself.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "The Package," for HIV.
  • The Unreveal: We never learn how James knows Chuck and Rufus.
  • Wham Line: Damn near every chapter ends on one, but the best example would probably be "I can't believe it's a man!" in Chapter 2.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The whole "Big Man is Bridget's baby's daddy" plot thread is very abruptly dropped.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Almost every male character threatens a woman at some point, although James hitting Bridgette is the only instance of it happening onscreen.

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Alternative Title(s): Trapped In The Closet


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