Frankie J

Houston's Frankie J takes fans on a smooth ride.

Frankie J must be a record exec's dream: He's got smooth vocals that effortlessly go from pop to R&B to cumbias, looks that are the perfect blend of pretty and thug, and an address book that includes friends Chamillionaire, Jellybean Benitez, Happy Perez and Mannie Fresh. Of course, the fact that he already has legions of fans from his Kumbia Kings days doesn't hurt either. The Mexican-born J is based in Houston now and, in fact, recorded some of his fifth solo release, Priceless, here, trying to catch what he calls "that Houston vibe." Priceless includes both ballads ("Daddy's Little Girl" and "If He Can't Be") and dance tracks ("Top of the Line"). J doesn't have quite the vocal range that Huey Dunbar has, but he's careful to stick to material that shows off his substantial talents.

J wrote or co-wrote each of the CD's 12 tunes, and while there are some bumps along the road (especially lyrics like "You rock me like Prince/You so nasty like Vanity Six/I'm loving your Janet Control" and an overbearing performance by Chamillionaire on "That Girl"), it's still a pretty smooth ride.

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