By Jonathan Bernstein
Updated August 17, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

With her rigorous deployment of belly button and booty, Dominican spark plug Kat DeLuna, 19, seems to have been created to fill the gap between Rihanna and Shakira. But her surprisingly solid debut (9 Lives), which makes room for both dance-floor exhortations (the summer’s inescapable ”Whine Up”) and bubblegum confections (”Am I Dreaming?”), singles out DeLuna as a more vocally gifted descendant of the Latin freestyle divas of the late ’80s. Rest easy, Cynthia, Safire, and Lisette Melendez, your legacy is in safe hands. B
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