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Ms. Dynamite

A Little Deeper

Interscope

For once, do believe the hype. Ms. Dynamite spent last year picking up every possible award and accolade in her native UK, and all over Europe. And here she is, finally being unleashed on an unsuspecting US audience who still seems to believe that Nelly represents the future of sassy r-n-b, hip-hop and nu-soul. How sad.

Ms. Dynamite possesses a natural authority and a chilled presence so strong you'll find yourself kneeling in front of your stereo. Her early UK singles (all culled from this one) are quite simply too good to be believed: the casual streetwise elegance of "Dy-na-mi-tee," the smart-n-sexy "It Takes More" and the sensually playful "Put Him Out," all contain more talent and excitement than most similar artists will fit into an entire career. It all serves to place her a couple of leagues above too-safe artists like Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige, and posits her as a more frivolous female version of fellow Brits, The Streets.

A Little Deeper tells the tales of survival on the streets, and the struggle to hold on to your sense of personal worth and social justice in the face of everyday misery. Even the compulsory ballads show more energy and fierceness than most of her lackluster competitors, most of them too preoccupied with getting on radio to ever dare run any musical risk. And when she brings in Kymani Marley for "Seed Will Grow," it's one of the single most intimate moments captured on tape in recent history.

The fact that this is Ms. Dynamite's debut only adds to the impression of what a stunning album this is, one that single-handedly revives the potential of soulful, hip-hop-induced r-n-b. A Little Deeper is one of the truly defining albums of its genre, an album that future artists will look to for inspiration as well as be measured up against. An effortlessly stunning masterpiece.

Interscope Records: http://www.interscope.com/