February 27, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

After penning several tracks for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Mario, the 22-year-old R&B songwriter steps to the mic on this confident if slightly underwhelming debut, In My Own Words. To his credit, Ne-Yo not only co-writes all of his material, but he wisely forgoes token samples in favor of juicy Off the Wall -era chord progressions. Unfortunately, this also reveals a principal weakness: lack of Jacko-size vocal personality.

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