March 20, 2006 12:00 PM

Ghetto Classics

CRITIC’S CHOICE

R&B

From the title of his third album, which follows platinum releases Ghetto Love and Still Ghetto, to the white pimp-daddy hat he rocks on the CD cover, Jaheim shows much love for the street. The New Brunswick, N.J., native brings a distinct ghetto realness to these romantic tales from the hood. “I love you ’cause you’re from the streets,” he professes on “Masterpiece,” while on “125th” he rhapsodizes about a “shorty” he spots waiting, hand on hip, at a subway stop. To give a little more hip-hop cred to his slices of urban life, Jaheim recruits rappers Jadakiss and Styles P for guest spots. Mostly, though, this disc has more of a classic-soul vibe, with lush production that recalls the ’70s Sound of Philadelphia and nods to everyone from the Delfonics to Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. There’s a little bit of Teddy Pendergrass in Jaheim’s delivery too, but he mostly comes across as a ghetto-fabulous Luther Vandross.

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DOWNLOAD THIS: “Daddy Thing”

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