While there's no such thing as a sure thing, newcomer Blu Cantrell's odds of sticking around are far from a long shot, judging by this debut.

While there's no such thing as a sure thing, newcomer Blu Cantrell's odds of sticking around are far from a long shot, judging by this debut. The daughter of a jazz singer already has a top five hit with "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)," the catchy, spend-all-his-money revenge ditty written and produced by Dallas Austin. While Cantrell's Cotton Club-meets-contemporary R&B/hip-hop style is an oasis in a formulaic desert, it's the 25-year-old's powerful alto that's the real story. Under the direction of such producers as Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Chris "Tricky" Stewart, the singer/songwriter is at home belting out emotion-filled blues à la Jennifer Holliday or jazzing things up à la Sarah Vaughan.—GM