MI Records/Universal - 2004 - 58 minutes

Ashanti's fusion of tough hip-hop and smooth R&B on 'Concrete Rose' makes for a lively mix of tunes, which are sure to fill dancefloors.

Her deep and wide-ranging vocals are complimented to the full by big beats, and often eerie, backing tracks, which use percussion to the max.

From the soft tones of 'Love Again' and 'Freedom', to the upbeat, peppy offerings like 'Turn It Up' and the infectious 'Touch My Body', and on to the high-pitched tracks like 'Every Lil' Thing', Ashanti offers a range that veers from delicate to brash.

Teaming up with Lloyd, 7 Aurelius, Ja Rule and Shi Shi for some very unique songs, Ashanti has a natural ability to blend with the tones of her guests, creating a finely tuned mix. The results are some nice collaborations, that very much enhance the overall feel of the album, particularly her duet with 7 Aurelius on 'Don't Leave Me Alone'.

Perhaps Ashanti's strength in producing duets that hit the mark is her confidence in taking a backseat on many of the tunes and letting the beats and raps take over her harmonies, without drowning them out, as highlighted by her collaboration with Ja Rule on 'Wonderful'.

Dotted with stars, Ashanti's self-proclaimed "best album" is a slick collection that shines without dazzling.

Linda McGee

Tracklisting: Concrete Rose Intro - Still Down - Only U - Focus - Don't Let Them - Love Again - Take Me Tonight (featuring Lloyd) - U - Every Lil' Thing - Turn It Up (featuring Ja Rule) - Buck 3000 - So Hot - Don't Leave Me Alone (featuring 7 Aurelius) - Sister Stories (featuring Shi Shi) - Freedom - Wonderful (Remix featuring Ja Rule) - Touch My Body.