John Legend

Get Lifted (Columbia Records)

A child prodigy who's been playing the piano since age five and attended college at sixteen, John Legend played with Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson, among others, before Kanye West noticed his talent and took him under his wing. On Get Lifted, his debut disc, Legend runs the gamut of black music, from the gospel sound of "It Don't Have to Change" to the '70s stylings of "Live It Up" to the hip-hop thump of "Used to Love U" and "#1," both of which were produced by West. But along with smooth vocals and slick songwriting, Legend's talent resonates the most when it's just him and his piano. On "Ordinary People" and "So High," the keyboards effectively set the mood for a long night of romance. With the R&B scene so cluttered with wannabe thugs and gangstas, Legend takes it back to the music. And that's reason enough to Get Lifted.

 
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