Jeannie Ortega | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Jeannie Ortega

It's a crowded field of pretty-girl thugettas trying to make a mark on the hip-hop world, but Jeannie Ortega might actually have a shot. With her debut release, No Place Like Bklyn, Ortega proves she's more than just someone a producer tells, "Stand here, sing that." She actually has a voice. It's deep, husky, and smooth, easily moving from ballads to uptempo dance tunes, handling hip-hop, pop, and R&B with equal ease. Ortega takes co-writer credit on ten of the 11 tracks, and it's noteworthy that the one tune she didn't co-write, "Can U," is the weakest in the lineup. The video for her first single, "Crowded," shows all of Ortega's strengths and weaknesses. She's strong, talented, beautiful, and tough. While Ortega sings and dances well, she mugs for the camera a little too much, twisting her lush lips into an exaggerated sneer too easily. And there's a noticeable drop in quality when rapper Papoose takes over for a few bars. The CD suffers from the same afflictions: Ortega can oversing, adding unnecessary drama to an already effective line; it's especially noticeable on "What I Need." Overall, though, with Ortega's ability to draw from both hip-hop and Latin audiences, she just might be the real deal.