Since this is her first album, singer/ songwriter/producer Lil' Mo technically falls into the newcomer category.

Since this is her first album, singer/ songwriter/producer Lil' Mo technically falls into the newcomer category. Yet she has made some considerable noise over the past few years, lending her raw, R&B/hip-hopped vocals to such songs as Missy Elliott's "Hot Boyz" and Ja Rule's "Put It on Me." Now—propelled by the momentum of her own top 10 single, "Superwoman Pt. II"—the native New Yorker steps squarely into an arena that's played host this year to notable debuts by such contemporaries as Sunshine Anderson and Syleena Johnson. And she definitely holds her own. Whether singing about holding on to your dreams (the autobiographical "My Story"), remaining true to oneself ("Gangsta"), dissecting the relationship tango ("Player Not the Game," an inspired pairing with Carl Thomas), or denouncing "ghetto state-of-mind" materialism ("Supa Star"), Lil' Mo comes across as the real deal—not another assembly-line-molded sound-alike.—GM

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