Last year, the Neptunes' alter ego, N*E*R*D, released the festive full-length "In Search Of . . .

Last year, the Neptunes' alter ego, N*E*R*D, released the festive full-length "In Search Of . . ." Now, the duo of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams—who have produced hits for such superstars as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake—delivers a follow-up, of sorts. And it is smackdown genius. In the Neptunes' musically diverse sonic landscape, less is more: naked electro beats, raw basslines, the odd guitar lick. In such an against-the-grain environment, the featured artists are given ample space to breathe and strut their stuff. Already, the collection has spawned hits with the salacious "Light Your Ass on Fire" and the soulful "Frontin' " spotlighting, respectively, Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z. Elsewhere, Nelly ("If"), Snoop Dogg ("It Blows My Mind") and Kelis ("Popular Thug"), among others, spend time behind the mic. Ol' Dirty Bastard, now recording as Dirt McGirt, delivers deft word play on the scorching "Pop Sh*t."—MP

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