Plenty of masculine R&B and hip-hop is little more than narcissistic posturing -- a sweaty platform for self-styled superheroes who feel the need to tell you over and over again why they're the toughest, the hardest, the sexiest, the most street. J-Shin, Miami's latest smooch-music specialist whose thoroughly enjoyable debut this is, indulges in similar behavior at times. Although he does loads of boinking over the course of My Soul, My Life, and describes his escapades in agreeably profane detail, he regularly demonstrates an old-fashioned concern for his partner's pleasure. Damn straight he's gonna orgasm, but he'd kinda like his woman to do it, too. As he warbles in "Pony Ride" (a title not chosen at random): "There isn't a thing I wouldn't do to satisfy your needs."

J-Shin's voice is reedy and a bit nasal when he's turning one syllable into four, but it's an effective instrument when it comes to seduction, and it often does. Yet he's smart enough to know when to use the soft sell. Witness "Sex Is Not," in which he follows the declaration, "Sex is not the only thing on my mind" with "But your body's got me thingin'/I cannot lie." He follows that up with "Whatever U Want," an often startling indication of eternal fealty (when was the last time you heard a loverman announce, "I'll pay your rent/I'll wash your clothes"?) and "What's On Your Mind," a sort of carnal pledge: "I wanna be the one to do you right," he croons like he really, really means it. He's not a moralist, either: During "Treat U Better" he tells a femme with both a male and a female lover that he can "fuck you better than your man or your woman can." Betcha he means that in a nice way. But the truest indication of J-Shin's horny variation on geniality is "One Night Stand," a ready-made urban hit that casts LaTocha Scott of Xscape as a woman he may or may not have impregnated during a passing encounter. Even though Scott didn't tell the star of the show about her "man at home," he says, "I'm ready to take responsibility."

Ladies, latch on to this guy fast. He's a real catch.

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Michael Roberts
Contact: Michael Roberts