Mya, whose star began rising after she belted out a killer hook for 1998's ''Bulworth'' soundtrack, is only on her third full-length and seems unwilling to settle for ghetto superstardom. Like Mexican star Thalia, she's gunning for the global ubiquity enjoyed by Ms. Carey and Ms. Lopez, even if they play the game differently. The former ODB collaborator, who's always stayed close to her roots with relatively gritty R&B offerings, even seemed to be varying her image lately. First, she hoofed it up all classy-like with a very respectable bit part in the hit film ''Chicago.'' Next, the 24-year-old kept it real with socially conscious rapper Common in that conspicuously crunchy Coke commercial. But, as her boastful new single ''My Love Is Like...Wo'' makes clear, she can't seem to stop working the tired ol' hip-hop diva angle.
At best, Moodring exhibits some minor genre dabbling, but truthfully, Mya's source material hasn't broadened much. Besides 'jacking Black Rob's whole ''like...whoa!'' thing from three years ago, Mya recycles an eight-year-old Pharcyde loop, pathetically plunders Jay-Z's round-the-clock motif from ''Do It Again'' circa 1999, and airs out stale street sass like ''I am not the one to be played with/You better tell that girl to step.'' Without a commanding voice to override such outdated overtures, Mya's efforts sound strikingly out of touch.
Even her attempts to get with the times falter. Sean Paul's signature dry-ice drawl is squandered on the soft-pedaled reggae effort ''Things Come and Go.'' And whereas up-and-comers Fannypack would have made the catty, up-tempo ''Whatever Bitch'' into a harmless, cutesy dance-floor anthem, Mya's attack is just obnoxious. Her retread of Tom Petty's ''Free Fallin''' (whose idea was that, anyway?) is a particularly cloying bit of heavy-handed, sub-City High hip-hop hackwork. Coca-Cola endorsements aside, maybe it's a good thing she didn't go completely conscious.
Admittedly, Mya is at her most convincing when her mood turns nasty, whether she's berating a potential baby-daddy on ''Late,'' ejecting a lowlife lover on ''Why You Gotta Look So Good?'' or exacting sweet revenge on the RZA-like ''Taste This.'' ''How would you feel,'' she sneers on the last, ''if, when we're makin' love, I don't go down no more?'' Now, that's ''whoa.''