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RIHANNA - MUSIC OF THE SUN - UNIVERSAL
Record Rating: ***

Rihanna - Music Of The Sun - Universal Since the turn of the century, every American summer has seemed to produce one or two Caribbean-styled dance-pop hit sensations, and the summer of 2005 was no different. Pon De Replay caught fire almost immediately, challenging Mariah Carey’s We Belong Together reign atop the Billboard chart and made seventeen year old Robyn Rihanna Fenty (aka Rihanna) of Barbados a superstar.

That stardom came courtesy of a fateful meeting with a man named Evan Rogers. The New Yorker was vacationing in Barbados when someone turned him on to Rihanna. Since Rogers has spent years producing pop artists ~ including superstars NSYNC, Christina Aguilera and Rod Stewart ~ he offered her the opportunity to record some music after he recognized her talent and potential.

You would imagine that she would be a one hit wonder. Pon De Replay even samples the handclap that is notorious for leading to one hit wonders. But a first listen to her new album does suggest otherwise. Music Of The Sun is her debut, trying to break into an industry that is eager to celebrate the next big thing.

The 13 tracks here follow Beyonce and Mariah Carey’s recent templates, catchy pop songs with hip-hop rhythms and laid back dance beats. Tracks like Here I Go Again, If It's Lovin' That You Want and You Don't Love Me (No, No, No) are a catchy blend of hip-hop and reggae, and highlight her pleasing, yet limited voice. There are filler tracks, yes, like Now I Know and Willing To Wait, but this CD has a lot more good material than bad, and suggests that on her next album, a focused direction into reggae dancehall could transform Rihanna from an inconsistent performer to possibly a more interesting one.

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