N.E.R.D.

N.E.R.D.

In Search Of…

Virgin

Beats happening! The Neptunes (the beat poets behind hits by Mystikal, Jay-Z, and Noreaga; and subsequently making their buzzy bounce n’ rattle as ubiquitous on BET and MTV as ads for Ms. Cleo are) join clinical rapper Shay under the nom de rap N.E.R.D.

Kind of an apropos nomenclature, considering how these unapologetic N.E.R.D.s warp typical hip-hop subject matter into contorted intellectualizing. In “Lap Dance,” a booty-jiggle song is merely a front for deep political undertones. Conversely, “Brain,” seemingly an ode to the female conversationalist, is actually a funky plea for oral sex.

Production-wise, N.E.R.D. stick to the same jumping-bean thump that they’ve been pretty faithful to for the last three years, but that’s fine ’cause it apparantly hasn’t worn out its welcome from the national ass-shakin’ zeitgeist. However, In Search Of… is more diverse than their previous oeuvre, shifting from the metallic pop of “Things Are Getting Better,” the bruising pummel of “Rock Star – Poser,” the relaxed balladry of “Provider,” the classic ’80s funk-lite of “Run to the Sun,” and the eels-meets-Corey Glover waterfall “Stay Together.”

Unfortunately, without the charisma of Neptunes collaborators like Mystikal, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, or Ludacris, this record will probably only appeal to beat fiends, pseudo-intellectual record critics, Spin-reading suburban white kids, and possibly strippers. N.E.R.D.s unite.

Virgin Records: http://www.virginrecords.com

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