June 21, 2004 12:00 PM

R&B-POP

Christina Milian

“It’s about time you get to know me,” says Christina Milian on the intro of her long-awaited U.S. full-length debut. Indeed, despite her 2001 hit “AM to PM,” her first, self-titled set was released only outside the States. Milian, a 22-year-old Latina (she’s Cuban-American) who’s both a singer and an actress (she starred in last year’s Love Don’t Cost a Thing), struggles to find her own musical identity on this fun but formulaic CD. She mostly comes off as a baby J.Lo on hip-hop-flavored dance numbers like the first single, “Dip It Low,” a sexy booty bumper with a reggae-ish bass groove, a hypnotic Middle Eastern refrain and a perfectly chilled guest rap by Fabolous. Jennifer Lopez—for whom Milian cowrote the song “Play” on 2001’s J.Lo album—isn’t the only pop diva who comes to mind on It’s About Time. The bubbly, electronica-infused “I Need More” recalls Britney Spears‘s hit “Toxic”; the R&B-pop ballad “Miss You Like Crazy,” with Milian’s sweet if slight soprano, is reminiscent of Aaliyah; and “L.O.V.E.” (one of two tracks featuring her labelmate, rapper Joe Budden) evokes the breezy hip-hop soul of Ashanti. Though Milian is still in search of her own sound, all those songs make for a good time.

A good time is exactly what Milian is looking for here, whether it be on the dance floor (“Let Loose”) or in the bedroom (“Dip It Low”). The disc’s most erotically charged track, the slow-grinder “Highway,” sounds like a female answer to R. Kelly’s “Ignition”: “I’ll control the stick, you drive between the lines.” She is less successful when she attempts to get introspective on the CD’s most personal cut, “Oh Daddy,” about the struggles that her family experienced after her parents divorced. At least, though, it gives us a glimpse into the real Christina.

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