By EW Staff
Updated June 25, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

AGE 25
MUSTWORTHINESS After steadily building a career on slick dance moves and even slicker R&B singles, the Chattanooga-born crooner finally claimed pop ubiquity this year by teaming with Lil Jon and Ludacris for the irresistible ”Yeah!” (Of course, his paparazzi-pleasing breakup with TLC’s Rozonda ”Chilli” Thomas didn’t exactly dim the limelight.) His fourth album, ”Confessions,” sold more than one million copies in its first week — the most ever by an R&B artist — and has gone platinum four times.
ON HIS MUST LIST Jackie Wilson. ”There was Jackie Wilson before there was Elvis Presley.”
HIS REAL FEELINGS ABOUT JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE ”It’s weird as hell to know that I’m possibly going to be on the same label as him. I feel like the guy is very smart, [but] I hate when [people] try to compare us…. He’s pop. I’m R&B, man. I create what pop is. He’s falling victim to what pop is. Not to say that’s a bad thing.”
OR TO PARAPHRASE MUHAMMAD ALI ”I’m prettier, I’m faster, I’m stronger. I’m Ali, baby. They say Justin was live, but I’ll take him in five.”
NEXT His U.S. tour with Kanye West starts in August.