shawnna.jpgPossessing both sex appeal and lyrically sharp volleys, Shawnna has the best of both worlds. However, her inconsistent debut, Worth Tha Weight, failed to show that duality, and barely made a dent on SoundScan. Less than two years later, the Chi-Town loyalist returns with her sophomore set, Block Music, and proves why she’s worthy of another shot.

Still riding high off the success of her holdover hit from Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace compilation, Shawnna includes “Gettin’ Some” and a testosterone-charged remix featuring Lil Wayne, Ludacris and Pharrell on her latest disc. Treading similar sexual waters is the big-booty banger “Damn.” Backed by vigorous horns and warped drums, the DTP Queen and Field Mob’s Smoke trade trite verses about that pretty brown round.

Based on the overtly sexual innuendos, it would appear this project is trotting down the same beaten path as every other chick disc. Thankfully, Shawnna shifts gears and introduces introspective cuts like the Vudu-produced “In the Chi,” where she bigs up deceased friends and her hometown, while asserting, “I’m a real lyricist, and you bitches is carbon copies.” Not just haphazardly slingin’ the B-word around, the femme fatale takes a cue from 2Pac and breaks down the varying definitions of the slur on “Wonder Why They Call You Bitch.”

Although she maintains her rough edge with lyrically tense cuts like “Bang” and the title track, Shawnna also taps into her softer side. The tender “Take It Slow” featuring Ludacris and Bobby Valentino has her spinning a sensual tale of love and regret. Teaming up with DTP newcomer Shareefa for “Can’t Break Me,” Shawnna expounds on the struggles of juggling life, music and single motherhood (“My baby askin’ why his daddy don’t love him yet/I swear to God it’s like a bullet to the chest”). Offering up more of herself this go-round, Shawnna shows considerable growth. Maybe now she can finally get some... props.—ALVIN BLANCO