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Da Brat

As a teenager, Da Brat made her name by freestyling at a Kris Kross concert, where she turned heads with a hard-hitting flow and an undeniable spunk. Scooped up and molded into a B-grade celebrity by Hotlanta hitmaker Jermaine Dupri, Brat (born Shawntae Harris) has grown up in the public eye. Her 1994 debut, Funkdafied, produced a number of popular tunes and earned the distinction of being the first platinum-certified album by a female rapper. On 2000's Unrestricted, Harris unleashed a previously hinted-at sexuality on an unsuspecting rap world, a move that reinvented her tomboy image from the ground up. On her fourth full-length effort, Harris continues in this saucy vein and flexes her considerable mic skills.

Harris is a far more accomplished MC than her hot-panted peers (Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Eve); she spits with fire and venom, committing herself to every syllable and verbal tic. Unfortunately, Limelite's lack of meaty hooks and club-friendly backing tracks (both very necessary hip-pop ingredients) leaves Harris firing round after verbal round to no avail. Limelite has already produced a hit with "In Love Wit Chu" and will presumably further Harris' transition from kid sister to hoochie mama, but the Chicago-bred MC will have to hire better help if she ever intends to make a truly memorable record.

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Geoff Harkness

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