Ms. Dynamite :: A Little Deeper :: Interscope Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

In the United States, the name Ms. Dynamite hasn't blown up yet. In her native United Kingdom though, Niomi Daley is already a rising star. Dynamite made her name in the garage and two-step scene with the underground hit "Booo!" and went on to win awards like MOBO's "Best Newcomer" and "UK Act Of The Year." She has even jointed Eminem on tour dates throughout the country. So why hasn't she reached the same pinnacles of fame here?

The obvious answer from listening to "A Little Deeper" is lack of exposure, not lack of talent. Dynamite may be the Euro answer to Lauryn Hill - singing more than rapping, although with a little more "chatta" in her flow. Given Salaam Remi's strong hand in mixing and producing on the album, and considering his involvement in a lot of The Fugees early big hits, the similarity is no coincidence. You can hear it on the acoustic title trick, the smooth urban bounce of "Now U Want My Love," the Sean Paul style "Danger" and the D'Angelo type smoothness of "Anyway U Want It" featuring Keon Bryce. That's not to take away from Punch, who rocks beats on songs like "Sick 'n' Tired"; or Bloodshy & Avant, who go from a deft subtle touch on "Brother" to a snappy attack on "Put Him Out" that matches Dynamite's equally unapologetic lyrics:

"Tells you what to wear and how to behave
Comes in your home and treats you like his slave
Don't need him if he make you sacrifice
your freedom - get him outcha life!
Shout and curse at you in public places
Sleep in your house on a part time basis
He ain't even takin care of his child
He don't, make you smile!
Girl you got to put him out
Change them locks - and all dat!
Girl you got to put him out
And this time, don't take him back"

Calling this a "rap album" might be hard. The album comes with a parental advisory for explicit language, and she's not afraid to put it to the test with a chorus that says "And now you want my time; if you think you're gonna get it you must be out your fuckin mind" in the song "Now U Want My Love." Yet in a lot of "likkle" ways Ms. Dynamite strives to give the album hip-hop attitude, and her selection of producers definitely manage to straddle the fence. On the single "Dy-Na-Mi-Tee" her style echoes the urban sensibilities of Nelly Furtado as she croons her way through what delivered any other way would be a rap:

"Yo I'm that same little girl that grew up next door to you
Went through all the things a teenage girl go through
Hangin' out all night and breaking my curfew
When my daddy hit the door I gave my mamma the blues
Use to spend my time blazin lazin'days away
Thought I was grown left home at 15 didn't wanna obey
Had to get my act together couldn't take the heat
And now I'm makin beats for the streets"

Ultimately with Ms. Dynamite, it comes down to whether or not you like a little sugar in your spice. She's definitely hot, but the singing makes the album come off a little sweet. The beats and rhymes keep things solidly grounded, and the record is definitely made for and targetted at a hip-hop audience. The accolades that Dynamite has received to date are definitely well earned. If she strikes a chord with the U.S. audience there may be many more in Niomi Daley's future.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10

Originally posted: March 18, 2003