These days, R&B girls are a dime a dozen, but Ashanti Douglas is a step ahead of the pack. Youthful appeal and a pleasantly dreamy voice complement the 21-year-old singer/songwriter's ability to pen her own radio-friendly verses. However, Ashanti's young'un status shows itself through her treatment of the usual R&B-girl subject matter: love standing strong, love gone bad, and the search for love of self. Songs like "Foolish," "Happy," and "Baby" are as simple and agreeable as their one-word titles suggest, while "Call," "Movies," and "Over" take a slightly more earthy approach.
Ashanti is definitely R&B for the under-30 set, and as such it's bouncy and playful. This debut, as is to be expected of a Murder Inc. release, features a strong hip-hop element, including two duets with Irv Gotti's golden child, Ja Rule, and the sampling of a controversial Notorious B.I.G. composition in "Unfoolish." The kids should love it. --Rebecca Levine