Hear a new ''Smokin''' track from the hip-hop star's film debut. Plus: an exclusive track from the Boggs, and new music from Mathematics with Wu-Tang's Raekwon, Paula Frazer and Tarnation, and Calle 13

By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated February 14, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

A ”Smokin”’ track from Common and Bilal

COMMON FEAT. BILAL, ”Play Your Cards Right”
In the new gangster flick Smokin’ Aces, Common plays a cold-blooded killer — a far cry from the thoughtful, easygoing persona he’s perfected over his 15-year hip-hop career. It’s the latter guise that carries him through this selection from the film’s soundtrack. Common drops tight verses that complement a backdrop of upbeat string and horn samples. But underrated neo-soul man Bilal’s honey-smooth, harmony-drenched hooks very nearly steal this hand. (Stream it on the soundtrack’s MySpace page or buy the album on iTunes)

So much Wu-Tang Clan-related material has flooded the market since the mid-’90s that it’s hard to believe the Staten Island rappers had enough left over to put out this month’s Wu-Tang Clan & Friends: Unreleased. What’s even harder to believe is that it’s actually a pretty strong set, with solid production throughout from longtime Wu associate Mathematics. This track, which finds Raekwon sharing druggy anecdotes over Math’s plinking harpsichords, could fit comfortably into one of the Wu’s better albums — and it raises hopes for the all-new one they’re reportedly readying for this summer. (Buy it on iTunes)

THE BOGGS, ”Orphans”
These globe-trotting hipsters won over critics with the creaky folk, blues, and bluegrass of their 2002 debut. Frontman Jason Friedman shuffled (and reshuffled) the band’s lineup shortly thereafter; his influences appear to have leaped forward by approximately 75 years on the Boggs’ upcoming third album, Forts, and the switch works brilliantly. We’re pleased to exclusively premiere this standout cut, which features shout-along vocals and razor-sharp guitars reminiscent of the leanest, meanest work of post-punk heroes like Wire. (Download it from Gigantic Music)

Bay Area alt-country band Tarnation released just two albums — both landmarks of the genre — before singer/songwriter Paula Frazer went solo in 1998. She’s resurrected the Tarnation name for Now It’s Time, which hits stores this week, and it too seems poised to be a classic. In this cut from that record, Frazer’s high, airy vocals are a breathtaking centerpiece to an elegantly arranged dose of melancholy. (Download it from

CALLE 13, ”La Crema”
This Puerto Rican duo has unleashed a string of experimental Spanish-language hits over the last year, giddily tossing all manner of unexpected instrumental riffs and pop-culture references over reggaeton’s distinctive BOOM-ch-boom-chk beat. On the first single from their sophomore LP (out March 13), that beat is buried deep beneath strutting guitars, hot blasts of brass, and funky raps en español — all of which combine, as usual, for a surefire dancefloor-filler. (Download it from Calle 13’s website)