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Only Mos Def's continued championing of that most uneasy of musical hybrids, rap-rock, rings slightly hollow.The New Danger may ultimately fall short of greatness, but it deserves generous applause for such lofty ambition. , followed by the R&B supergroup Lucy Pearl, which he formed with members of En Vogue and A Tribe Called Quest.Often he's not singing, but reciting poetry in his droll, dry Canadian accent, talking about a time of life (he's now 70) when women come to him and bend over his bed and, as he shivers, "cover me up like a baby".And when he does sing, at times it's almost like the sound of one man disappearing: on Morning Glory he's just a low mumble, barely audible among angelic female voices and – not for the first time on an album that is too often let down by its instrumentation – an irksome squelchy synthesizer.Craig Mc Lean Leonard Cohen Dear Heather, Columbia, £13.99He went up a Californian mountain to join a Buddhist monastery, came down with a bunch of poems and songs, and subsequently released 2001's patchy, sparse-sounding 10 New Songs.Now, in what for Leonard Cohen amounts to a flurry of creative activity, he's back with this strange, disparate, occasionally marvellous collection, on which his voice descends to new depths of husky rumbliness.One of the joys of Shaheedullah and Stereotypes is its diversity: at its best, the album has the stylistic breadth of a good Stevie Wonder album.

" The answer, apparently is no; world-weary, perhaps, but not tired, not yet.

If any hip-hop act merits comparison with those two bands, it's New York foursome A Tribe Called Quest, who for 10 years following their debut in 1989 relentlessly stretched the creative possibilities of this apparently simple form.

The group's musical driving force was Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Tom Horan Elliott Smith From a Basement on the Hill, Domino, £13.99It's hard to imagine the kind of pain that on/off drug addict, loner and archetypal bedroom balladeer Elliott Smith was going through when he died last year.

Despite the coroner's open verdict, it's widely believed he drove a knife into his own heart. In the classic paradoxical rock tradition, this emotionally troubled songwriter had stories to tell, yet found it difficult to deal with the industry in which he found himself (cf Nick Drake, Kurt Cobain).

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