Nneka, "Concrete Jungle"

88 Billboard Rating

Nneka's new album, "Concrete Jungle," may be her stateside debut, but this globetrotting R&B maverick-a Nigerian who is based in Germany-has already earned comparisons to such established artists as Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, whose work with the Fugees reportedly provided Nneka with her first taste of Western music. A dense yet buoyant mixture of hip-hop beats, reggae grooves, African-pop riffs and future-soul vocals, "Concrete Jungle" (which culls tracks from Nneka's previous European releases) does, in fact, echo "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." Like that 1998 blockbuster album, "Concrete Jungle" combines various styles in a manner that mirrors the singer's juxtaposition of the personal and the political. But Nneka never has trouble making the music her own -wide-ranging cuts like "Heartbeat," "Africans" and "Kangpe" sound like the natural result of her far-flung experience.

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