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Jay-Z/Linkin Park 

Collision Course (Warner Bros.)

A street hustler turned jillionaire entrepreneur, Jay-Z doesn't need to sell records. And while rap-rock is one of the few holes on his résumé, his semicollaboration with Linkin Park is less easy payday than image rehabilitation: After a few weeks on the road with R. Kelly, Jigga could stand to be seen with some mild-mannered kids from the 'burbs.

While Linkin Park may still never register on the Richter scale the way Rage Against the Machine did, Collision unexpectedly bestows some street cred upon the band. As heard constantly on rock radio, Linkin's "Papercut" sounds like the ranting of a drama-hungry adolescent. Effortlessly and expertly woven around the Caribbean pipes and percussion track from Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'," the lyrics ("It's like I'm/Paranoid/Lookin' over my back") suddenly sound like a verse Biggie Smalls might have spat. Mixed with Jay's "Jigga What," Linkin Park's "Faint" also finds new weight in the presence of a self-described "pimp in every sense of the word": Walk away from Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, and Jay-Z's gonna put the smack down on your ass.

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