Rhythm & Views 

Teena Marie

Fourteen years after her last album, '80s R&B songstress Teena Marie returns with an album that transcends the proverbial "triumphant comeback" tag.

La Doña is an enjoyable celebration of Marie's still-amazing soprano, groovealicious attitude and instrumental chops. This 48-year-old mom is able to convincingly pull off sensual ballads and down 'n' dirty funk workouts.

Marie was signed at 19 by Motown Records, spent many years as a protégé of Rick James and has been championed by many as the finest white soul singer in music history. James, by the way, guest stars on La Doña, along with such talents as smooth soulster Gerald Levert and rappers Common, MC Lyte, Lady Levi and Baby.

On the irresistible, mid-tempo "Makavelli Never Lied," Marie offers a tribute to Tupac Shakur's alter-ego as well as beloved artists past and present.

"Recycle Love to Hate," includes some pointed social commentary in its Latin-meets-dancehall groove, and the slow-burning jazz of "High Yellow Girl" (about Marie's daughter, Alia Rose) rivals the work of any those neo-soul gals littering the pop-culture landscape.

Nowadays, Marie records for the hip-hop label Cash Money, so it's not surprising her lyrics have adopted contemporary phraseology such as "off the chain," "in your grill," "mackin'" and "rolling with my crew." No problem; she's just keeping it real. But she also unfortunately indulges in one of the worst devices prevalent on today's R&B and hip-hop albums--the self-congratulatory, non-musical skit. Eh, nobody's perfect.

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