Ms. Dynamite 

A Little Deeper

This London MC and singer first emerged on the 2-step/garage single "Booo" by UK producer Sticky. On her 2002 album, A Little Deeper, Ms. Dynamite placed her bet at the R&B poker table and came up aces in the UK. Now it's time to test the US charts.

Deeper provides a solid snapshot of what's next in urban music; a debut that outlines what's both stylistically and emotionally possible in humanistic, female-centered hip-hop-soul. The album breaks out with a force that evokes Queen Latifah's All Hail the Queen and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Lyrically, Dynamite as an R&B vocalist and ragga stylist is right on point. Sprinkled among the requisite love songs and Dear John breakup jams are "Gotta Let U Know," a wearily tender letter to a "baby daddy," and "It Takes More," a smooth, truly sophisticated anti-bling tune: "If it's not too complex/Tell me how many Africans died for the baguettes on your Rolex?" On the scintillating, rock-tinged anthem "Put Him Out," she seamlessly rolls between spitting accusations against her girlfriend's mistreating man to lines like "he don't make you smile" with a heart-wrenching panache.

The dead-funky minimalist production provided by folks like Salaam Remi and beatmaster Punch proves just as crucial. The accordion samples on "Gotta Let U Know" and the jazz-blues tinges of "Dy-Na-Mi-Tee" give Deeper an irresistibly cosmopolitan edge.

Since A Little Deeper's release last summer in her home country, Dynamite has shot to superstardom, becoming the first black woman to win Britain's vaunted Mercury Music Award for best album. Now she's even pondering a political career. But let's see if she can take an at-war American urban music scene that's busy passing the Courvoisier and giving itself hugs in the clubs. Time will tell as to whether we're ready for some UK depth.

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