Picks and Pans Review: Queen Latifah

updated 08/31/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/31/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Persona |

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After two jazz-pop albums, Queen Latifah adopts a different musical Persona on her latest, playing to fans of R&B, pop, reggae and hip-hop, the genre that first made her famous two decades ago. Although Latifah leaves the rapping to Busta Rhymes on the synth-laced ballad "Hard to Love Ya," she proves to still be a formidable emcee on the soulful standout "People" (featuring Mary J. Blige) and "Over the Mountain," a gripping ode to personal triumph. Meanwhile, her singing—sometimes a little too subdued—is best showcased on the Princely pop-rocker "Cue the Rain."

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