In the midst of an urban music scene fixated on Moet and misogyny surfaces Ms. Dynamite. The 21-year-old British bombshell, already a household name in the UK and a luminary in its vibrant Garage scene, lands stateside with A Little Deeper. Her debut is a captivating mixture of grit and an honestly raw snapshot of the multiethnic London streets. The English MC tries to make sense of a web of poverty, crime and hopelessness – amidst, displaying a refreshing level of positivity. In “Watch Over Them,” Dynamite has the outlook of artists twice her age – “The same gunmen that cry ’bout suppression of the white man and his racist oppression / Have gun in his pocket and crack in possession” – also the clever rhyme play of “It Takes More” displays her sharp lyrical virtuosity in where she denounces the trappings of urban materialism (“If it’s not too complex, tell me how many Africans died for the baguettes on your Rolex?”). Here’s a female MC who would much rather trade wits than fawn over the latest Bulgari.

Todd Weiser

Collaborating with Salaam Remi (Nas, Fugees) to veteran reggae duo Tony and Dave Kelly, the album is alive with the rhythms of the African diaspora, infusing dancehall, reggae, hip hop and soul into one delectable mix. While selectively poignant, Deeper is also carefree. The head-nodders “Dy-Na-Mi-Tee” and “Sick ‘N’ Tired” are radio-ready bangers. In addition, “All I Ever” is the peak of the album’s sensual erotica, breathing with lush brass instrumentation. Vocally, Dynamite’s charisma and fresh approach sparkle the record; from her amber-smoked soprano to its notable guests: Barrington Levy to prophet seed Kymani Marley.

A Little Deeper is an ambitious and accomplished offering that’s by turns moving, elegiac and beautiful. With a refreshing approach at tackling contemporary black music, it proves to be one of the more worthy excavations of 2003 and its starlet nothing short of a gem.

Rating: 3 Stars.

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