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Surfing the Web for new music, video and MP3 downloads can be a serious time investment. Tips from Times staff and contributors will help take the drag out of click-and-drag music choices. Some downloads may contain explicit lyrics. All are free, except as noted. * -- CASEY DOLAN

December 16, 2006|CASEY DOLAN

"You Know I'm No Good (featuring Amy Winehouse)"

Ghostface Killah

www.defjam.com/site/artist_home.phpartist_id485

Ghost has elevated bad girl Winehouse's upcoming single from a snotty torch number into a dialogue on their troubled relationship. "Upcoming" is correct because her "original" version hits the streets in January, although a video has been making the rounds online. This collaboration proves to be far more successful. Winehouse cannot help the things she does; she's just naughty. "You had to be a nasty girl, tried to play me," says the hapless Ghost. His dramatic flair for borderline hysteria is delicious, name-checking Cheech and Chong and Kelly Clarkson along the way as he alternately implores and scolds his wayward woman.

*

"Hip Hop Is Dead (featuring will.i.am)"

Nas

www.defjam.com/site/artist_home.phpartist_id608Tough-talkin' Nas explores one of the central issues of music today: the rumored death of hip-hop. The track starts with the famous riff from Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" -- a leaden choice of musical detritus from the '60s that younger listeners may not know and older ones may want to forget. Not Nas; this is his second use of it, and the bass line becomes the driving force behind a call for a revolutionary overthrow of the commercialization of a genre that prided itself on its honest depiction of reality. The shots of Nas' rebel hip-hop conscripts assembling the most important weapon of propaganda for distribution, Nas' new CD, are alluring in the shadowy blue of a nighttime warehouse. Rather than a eulogy, the song and video become a call to arms.

*

"Be With You"

Elisabeth Withers

www.bluenote.com/elisabeth/

Best known for her Tony nominated role as Shug Avery in "The Color Purple," Withers will soon be releasing an album that displays her many strengths as a soulful vocalist with jazz depths. "Be With You" is irresistible with an elegant production that demonstrates how little needs to be done for a rhythm track to really support a singer. Withers playfully seduces her man in the video and displays a vulnerability even as she pursues what she desires.

*

"Myspace" (featuring Wisin & Yandel)

Don Omar

www.reggaetonation.com/music/2006/don-omar-ft-wisin-y-yandel-myspa ce/more-364

Half of L.A. is listening to this danceable, fascinating insight into the phenomenon of MySpace.com, a cyber world built and existing on myth and image. This can lead to problems in communication. Don Omar, a pillar of reggaeton, talks of falling in love with an "imaginary" woman through MySpace.com who disappears without explanation. Such are the vagaries of the online social scene. Who knows who anyone really is? The vocals are in Spanish and contain such humorous asides as the woman not leaving any text messages and his suspicion that she may have found another. For this, he is sick in love.

casey.dolan@latimes.com

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