Breaking: Keri Hilson

Who: R&B singer Keri Hilson, who — after penning hits like Britney Spears' "Gimme More" and Usher's "Love In This Club, Part II" — is stepping into the spotlight with her own debut album In A Perfect World...

Sounds Like: Like the songs she's written in years past, Hilson's sound is state-of-the-art R&B stocked with twitchy future-funk and effervescent soul. Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg are among the guests on Perfect.

Vital Stats:

• Hilson got her start when, as a 14-year-old Atlanta native, she was recruited to join girl group D'Signe. "I was a good student because my parents would say 'You're not going into the studio if you don't get an A,'" Hilson said. D'Signe ultimately got dropped from their label without releasing an album.

• After writing a few songs for other artists, Hilson scored an audition with superproducer Timbaland, which pretty much consisted of her singing over the phone. Timbaland promptly signed her to his music group and ushered her into the radio-friendly pop music universe on his song "The Way I Are."

• After writing four songs for Spears' Blackout, Hilson developed a nickname for Britney: "One-Take Jake." "With Britney, I need to get as much of any song done as I can [before she enters the studio]," says Hilson. "She likes to record quickly, partly because she doesn't like to stand up for too long."

Hear It Now: Hilson's In A Perfect World hits stores October 14th. In the meantime, you can scan the radio for any of her hits, or click above for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the video for "Energy."