Nas gets some help from Cee-Lo on a ''Rush Hour 3'' tie-in, plus new music from Jens Lekman, Chaka Khan featuring Mary J. Blige, Public Enemy, and Kenna

By Simon Vozick-Levinson
August 17, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Nas does a ”Rush Hour 3” track

NAS FEAT. CEE-LO, ”Less Than an Hour”
This Rush Hour 3 tie-in seems, at first blush, like yet another item on Nas’ legendary list of questionable decisions. (One can only imagine the size of the check that inspired him to tell AOL Music that ”Nobody brings it like Brett Ratner…. He’s the street-smart director.”) Funny thing, though — ”Less Than an Hour” turns out to be one of the strongest singles he’s released in years. Nas weaves a tale of international intrigue over a backdrop of moody strings and dirty drums, joined by the deranged soul cries of Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo. The result is a much more vivid narrative than anything moviegoers are likely to find in Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker’s latest match-up. (Hear it at AOL Music)

JENS LEKMAN, ”The Opposite of Hallelujah”
Scandinavia’s most accomplished swooner returns Oct. 9 with Night Falls Over Kortedala, named after the suburban Swedish district where he lives. But this new track sounds more like it’s floated straight out of the mid-century Brill Building. With twinkling jingle bells, bright violins, and a perfectly bittersweet performance by Lekman, it’s a twee classic in the making. (Download it from

”I remember when you used to love me,” Mary J. Blige laments here. She might as well be speaking for the song’s main star: Aside from the moment in 2003 when Kanye West’s ”Through the Wire” returned her sampled voice to the airwaves, Chaka Khan hasn’t had much mainstream buzz in over a decade. The lead single from her new CD Funk This, out Sept. 25, just might make people start paying attention again. Over a skin-tight funk rhythm, Chaka declares her eternal relevance — and indeed, anyone who can push the divine Mary J. into the background is a force to be reckoned with. (Buy it on iTunes)

PUBLIC ENEMY, ”Harder Than You Think”
After watching the colossally demeaning (if hilarious) spectacle of Comedy Central’s Flavor Flav roast last weekend, it feels like a minor miracle that the Viking-crowned celeb-reality clown is still making music with Public Enemy. And the lead single from PE’s just-released How Do You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? has an appropriately triumphant feel, from the blasting horn fanfare to Flav’s ecstatic sideline shouting. Chuck D’s lyrics might not be quite as gripping as they once were, but it’s still reassuring to hear PE bringing the noise after all these years. (Buy it on iTunes)

KENNA, ”Say Goodbye to Love”
After countless delays, the follow-up to this Neptunes protégé’s critically acclaimed 2003 debut is currently scheduled to hit stores next month. In the meantime, Kenna’s treated his fans to a series of singles showcasing various sides of his genre-crossing sound; this one finds him in a twitchy new-wave mood, grooving through an unusually upbeat breakup tune. With any luck, it’ll be the last teaser track before we finally get that full-length. (Stream it on Kenna’s)