Rihanna
A Girl Like Me
(Def Jam)
Signed to Jay-Z’s Def Jam roster after winning talent competitions in her native Barbados, teenage R&B siren Rihanna made a modest debut last year with the dancehall-inflected Music of the Sun. Few would have predicted her quick ascent into pop’s upper echelon, but that’s exactly what she and executive producer the Carter Administration have achieved with this practically flawless sophomore album. Leadoff track and smash hit single “S.O.S.,” built around the melody of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” is a pop gem and the Sean Paul collaboration “Break it Off” brings two of the Carribean’s hottest stars together for a show-stopping duet. First-rate.
—Dan Clahane

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