Ms. Jade Girl, Interrupted

Following the pig-wrasslin' Bubba Sparxxx, the latest protégé project for next-school super-producer Timbaland is Ms. Jade, a Philly rapper he's trying to position as "a female B.I.G. Or a harder Roxanne Shante." Well, that's a tough bill to fill, despite Jade's hard-edged flow, which avoids the self-exploitation of Lil' Kim but never approaches the might of Missy. And that is probably why they restricted Missy to singing a hook rather than rapping a duet on "Really Don't Want My Love," an album highlight thanks to a ridiculously atmospheric beatscape that's one of the best slabs of future soul Timbaland's yet concocted. They also score with the jittery Jay-Z cut "Count It Off" and "Dead Wrong," an instant g-funk classic offering deeply layered electro-synth symphonics over which Jade fast-raps and Nate Dogg delivers yet another song-stealing cameo. But the rest of the album (especially the irritatingly nasal Nelly Furtado track) suffers because Jade's vocals lack the distinctiveness needed to compete with Tim's attention-demanding backing tracks. (Beat Club)