Aaliyah, Timbaland Hold Up The Fort

Aaliyah's unnervingly sexy megahit "Are You That Somebody?," produced by the accomplished Timbaland, helped the "Dr. Doolittle" soundtrack last much longer than the Eddie Murphy comedy. That was no accident. The two get their ultrahot groove on once more on the soundtrack to "Romeo Must Die," and again they figure to overshadow their film.

"It's been a long time/ We shouldn't have left you/ Without a dope beat to step to," Timbaland proclaims in his murky voice as the electronica fuzz bass of "Try Again" (RealAudio excerpt) kicks off the album. He's not bold. He's not out of line. He's just honest. And he's right.

Aaliyah, who stars in the film, steps to that song and two other Timbaland beats, "Are You Feelin' Me" (RealAudio excerpt) and "I Don't Wanna," and makes them sizzle. Her understated, emotive voice fits perfectly with Timbaland's bass longings and his dizzying chord progressions. On "Come Back in One Piece" (RealAudio excerpt), she also takes a hardcore Irv Gotti beat tailored for DMX (he opens the song with a guest verse) and drives it without a hitch.

The rest of the album, sans rapper B.G.'s electrifying "Rollin' Raw," functions as a second-class citizen. It's generic. It's unmoving. It's typically whiny and overproduced. When the royalty checks roll in, those artists will owe Aaliyah and Timbaland a debt of gratitude, if not a percentage. They may have to stand in line behind the film's producers — they would have first dibs in bowing before the Batman and Robin of soundtracks.