Rah Digga Dirty Harriet

With a much-delayed, much-hyped release set up with cameos on Flipmode Squad, Outsidaz and Fugees recordings, Rah Digga only intensified the anticipation by releasing her sucker punch single, "Tight," last year. While there are a couple of concessions to those who need their hip-hop chopped-up and spoon-fed, Dirty Harriet works largely because of its uncompromising approach. Choosing beat veterans such as Pete Rock ("What They Call Me"), Premier ("Lessons of Today") and the Beatminerz, among others, turns out to be the shrewd and surprising trump card. These gritty soundscapes are a potent backdrop to Digga's authoritative sandpaper-rough voice. Add devastatingly savvy lyrical and metaphorical content to the mix and a very worthwhile debut emerges. (Elektra)