The Neptunes Present Star Trak


Record label red tape means officially-released “Neptunes’ greatest beats” compilations are logistically impossible, so unless you count a listicle filled with YouTube embeds or an enterprising fan’s self-made streaming playlist, this is as close as you’ll get to an actual album (OK, mixtape) that gives you a bigger-than-a-sliver picture of their pop dominance. And while most of their early superhits are confined to the masterfully cut-and-scratched N.O.R.E./Hova/Busta/Mystikal/Luda snippet barrage in the intro track, any mixtape that goes from the original all-electronic ’01 version of N*E*R*D’s borderline-glam “Rock Star” to Clipse’s moody Lox-featuring Lord Willin’ closer “I’m Not You” to Nelly’s deathless libido-catalyst club jam “Hot in Herre” will make a good case for those initial singles being just a warmup. There’s plenty more from Clipse (“When the Last Time”; “Hear Me Out”; a remix of “Grindin’” featuring N.O.R.E. and Baby) and Kelis (teaming with the Thorntons on “Popular Thug” and “Daddy”) to maintain their muso-familial connections, but the hits keep on coming, too — the “Co-Ed” remix of Britney Spears’ “Boys,” Jadakiss’s “Knock Urself Out,” and Queen Bey herself closing with “Work It Out” position the Neptunes as the ultimate crossover production unit of their era.

Nate Patrin