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The only things redundant on Davina’s exciting debut release Best of Both Worlds are the credits: “Drums programmed by Davina,” “Keyboards: Davina,” “Background vocals: Davina,” “Produced, arranged, and programmed by Davina.” It goes on endlessly. Damn, I love a woman in control! In front of the microphone Davina delivers an honest, sensual performance that is likely to have young ladies everywhere echoing her sentiments on songs like “When It Rains” and “Mercy.” Behind the boards, the artist’s own production provides bouncy, midtempo tracks that will keep the local thugs and b-boys bobbing their heads while on the horn to their respective honeys. Infectious grooves like “So Good,” off the Hoodlum soundtrack, and “Getz No Where” could possibly make Davina a more worthy heir to the hiphop diva throne most recently vacated by Mary J. Blige than ankh-toting sensation Erykah Badu. Of course, Davina’s lyrical material is standard R&B fare (“Baby, baby” alert!) with none of the elevated, semi-Afrocentric pretenses of Baduism. Whereas Badu’s presentation is flashy and didactic, Davina’s is understated and sincere, and will probably cost her some points onstage. Fortunately, the newcomer’s music speaks volumes about dedication to her craft. Her strong songwriting keeps the lyrics sexy but solid. Her excellent production combines steady bass-heavy beats with smooth, jazz-soaked chords. Her careful arrangement floats her sultry, occasionally gritty voice over the rhythm. At a time when the men of hiphop have resorted to singing off-key hooks over recycled ’80s loops and rewriting each other’s rhymes, it’s good to see a woman take matters into her own hands.

—Neil Drumming