N.E.R.D.

In Search of N.E.R.D. (Virgin)

"Rock Star"--with its opening taunt, "Fucking posers!"--may be the closest thing to a mission statement here. It may be the most mellow hardcore punk song ever, keeping its finger on the trigger but rarely pulling it. "You think that you don't have to ever quit/You think that you can get away with it," Williams sings, seething behind clenched teeth, as the guitar line attempts to kick the door in behind him. Then the hook: "You can't be me/I'm a rock star/I'm rhyming on top of cop car/I'm a rebel and my .44 pops far." It's not clear if Williams is boasting or poking holes in bloated egos, and I suppose it works both ways. Whatever the case, Williams and N.E.R.D. prove that mingling rap with rock wasn't a bad idea; it just wasn't done right. And now someone has.

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