The last time out, this soulful quartet hooked up with Nelly and nabbed a hit with the uptempo anthem "Where the Party At." Back for its fourth album—and first without the So So Def moniker &#x

The last time out, this soulful quartet hooked up with Nelly and nabbed a hit with the uptempo anthem "Where the Party At." Back for its fourth album—and first without the So So Def moniker —the foursome is floating up the charts again. This time around, it's with a sparkling ballad, "Walked Outta Heaven"—proof that emotion-packed R&B can still be a force in a seemingly all-hip-hop world. Featuring songs penned by Jagged Edge members/twin brothers Brian and Brandon Casey and songwriter/producer Bryan-Michael Cox, "Hard" includes nods to dancehall reggae ("Girls Gone Wild" with newcomer Major Damage) and funky hip-hop ("Car Show" with OutKast's Big Boi). But it's the guys' stock in trade as smooth-harmony balladeers that's the major plus here. Nowhere is that more evident than on the Jermaine Dupri- and Cox-produced charmer "Visions," which interpolates the the Michael Henderson classic "You Are My Starship."—GM