Ms. Dynamite

A Little Deeper (Interscope)

This debut from London MC and singer Ms. Dynamite provides a solid snapshot of what's next in urban music, outlining 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. As an R&B vocalist and raga stylist, Dynamite is right on point lyrically. 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 heart-wrenching panache. The dead-funky minimalist production provided by folks like Salaam Remi and beatmaster Punch proves just as crucial.

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. Time will tell if she can win constituents on these shores.