May 27, 2002 12:00 PM

Musiq (Def Soul)

He may have dropped Soulchild as his professional surname, but Musiq, 24, remains a faithful follower of such revered soul men as Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder and Prince on this follow-up to his 2000 platinum debut, Aijuswanaseing. On “Caughtup,” he throws down Sly’s psychedelic funk. On “Halfcrazy,” he conjures up the dreamy romanticism of ’70s Wonder. And on the righteous “Religious,” he juxtaposes the spiritual with the sexual in a manner that would do the Purple One proud. Although he isn’t as visionary as any of his heroes, Musiq (real name: Taalib Johnson) has clearly studied those masters well. This is the ultimate fan letter.

Bottom Line: The soulful sound of Musiq

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