They Nas-Tay! (But Fun)

Now that Prince has stopped being nas-tay, it looks like it's up to his Minneapolis homeboys Next to carry the naughty torch. Even more explicit than their double-platinum 1997 debut, Rated Next, is Welcome II Nextasy, which features such songs as "Cybersex" and "Jerk," an ode to the joys of solo sex.

Next approach sex with a realism that's the bedroom equivalent of gangsta rap's unvarnished look at street life — you don't hear anybody else singing about masturbation, do you? But they temper the explicitness with a sense of humor. It's hard not to laugh at the double meaning of the "I'm a jerk" chorus, or such lines as, "Download all over me," even as the grooves and the group's rough-edged but spot-on harmonies generate a genuinely steamy vibe.

But even if the overtly sexual songs are the first to jump out at you, Next are no one-trick pony. "Wifey" (RealAudio excerpt) is a funky joint about finding the right partner for life. "Beauty Queen" (RealAudio excerpt) wonders, with typical straightforwardness, why some women disrespect themselves: "Dimes that turn to pennies/ Women that turn into bitches/ Honeys that turn into ho's."

"Banned From TV" (RealAudio excerpt) explores macho fantasies about what men say they'd do if they found their woman with another guy: "Would I/ A. Go about my way/ B. Find something to say/ C. Go straight up crazy and do some banned from TV?" The song's urgent rhythm track only adds to the lyrics' sense of menace.

Throughout, the group and producer KayGee from Naughty by Nature mix up the production and tempos, from the hip-hop beats of "Jerk" (which features rapper 50 Cent) to the synthesized horn sounds and dancehall reggae vocals of "Oh No No." From beginning to end, Welcome II Nextasy puts Next at the forefront of male R&B in the new millennium.