August 19, 2002 12:00 PM

Amerie (Rise/Columbia)

At 22, Amerie is the latest graduate from the Mary J. Blige School of Hip-Hop Soul. Indeed her first single, the R&B hit “Why Don’t We Fall in Love” with its booming street beat and from-the-gut wailing, sounds like a lost early Blige track. Not coincidentally, Amerie’s debut disc was produced and almost entirely written by Rich Harrison, who also worked on Blige’s last two albums.

However, most of these hip-hopish, midtempo numbers and slow jams are pale imitations of that old Blige magic. The tired lyrics (“I just died in your arms tonight/ Don’t want nobody to bring me back to life,” on the sappy ballad “I Just Died”) don’t help. Although Amerie’s vibrant vocals are strong throughout All I Have, she still needs to develop her own artistic voice.

Bottom Line: You won’t fall in love with it

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