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THE COOL KIDS & r & & r & The Bake Sale & r & & r & 5 STARS & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & H & lt;/span & and claps are totally played. The new thing, as evidenced by the Cool Kids' "What Up Man," are samples of the word "clap." "Tick tick tick tick clap, tick tick tictictictic clap," comes the intro. Then the bass hits, in the form of a voice saying "bass" in a deep breathy tenor.





The form-play of building beats with words is brilliant, and it sets up the awesome line, "Did you know I made this beat with my voice and a bell?" over stabs of "bass" and the clink of a cowbell. It's one thing to say you're the smartest coolest rapper in the world. It's another to prove it with cheek-tongued innovation.





The rest of the EP shows similar lyrical creativity, sharp as tacks and hip as shit throughout ("A Little Bit Cooler" both apes hipster one-upmanship while indulging in it). Remember when the braggadocio and preening of hip-hop was effortless and fresh? It is again. iTunes now, in stores June 10.





-- LUKE BAUMGARTEN





DOWNLOAD: "What Up Man"





NINE INCH NAILS


The Slip


4 STARS


& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & B & lt;/span & ack in the day, you might wait five years between NIN albums. Yet since May 2005, there have been four new ones. There are several possible explanations. Maybe Trent Reznor became more prolific when he "stopped abusing drugs and alcohol." (But that's crazy talk.) More likely, the reason is extreme dissatisfaction with the government -- and to really stick it to the Man, the newest album is completely free. So I can't say George W. Bush never did anything for me.





With three instrumentals and seven songs, The Slip sounds the way a NIN album should, exploring such familiar but timeless themes as suicidal depression and things that lead to suicidal depression. And the first single is called "Discipline," for anyone who thought NIN's S & amp;M thing was too subtle in the past.





-- BEN KROMER





DOWNLOAD: all of it at nin.com