Picks and Pans Review: Chapter II

UPDATED 08/04/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/04/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

Ashanti (Murder Inc.)

When it was announced that Ashanti would be given the Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year accolade at last year's Lady of Soul Awards, over 30,000 people signed an online petition saying that she didn't deserve the honor. The singer's sophomore CD, though, proves wrong those who thought she would be a one-hit-album wonder. Chapter II, which continues the same hip-hop soul theme as her self-titled debut, is the equivalent of a good beach read: It's easy, breezy listening that doesn't require much brainpower. While songs like the shimmery single "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" will' sound great pumping from your boom box, these mostly midtempo and ballad tracks all start to sound the same midway through the disc. She could use more dance cuts like her cover of the '80s club classic "I Found Lovin'."

BOTTOM LINE: Agreeable Ashanti

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