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Who's Been Hooking Up With Britney?

If the variety of producers she’s working with is any indication, Britney Spears’ next record will be her most adventurous yet.

Sure, mainstays Rodney Jerkins and the Neptunes are again logging time with the pop princess, but she has also recorded with Ashanti producer 7 Aurelius and the Matrix, the production team behind Avril Lavigne’s hit singles. And don’t forget Fred Durst.

Both 7, who also worked on the latest Tupac album, and the Matrix have done three tracks with Spears and are hoping to do more.

“I’m doing something for her, something really ridiculous. [A] record I’m going to do for Britney is going to give Justin a reason to cry,” Aurelius said, suggesting a song that answers Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River,” which is widely believed to be about Spears. “It was her people that came and sat down, played me a lot of stuff she did. We sat down and talked out ideas and I got to working on stuff. It sounds crazy.”

Spears has said she may explore her hip-hop and rock influences on the follow-up to Britney, but the Matrix’s Lauren Christy said that’s not exactly the case.

“It’s definitely not anywhere near Avril,” Christy said. “It’s really hard to put it in a box. It’s not really R&B-based or dance-based, it’s just really good songs. It’s not done in a rock way at all, though.”

Christy, a former pop singer herself, likened the album to Madonna’s Ray of Light, which is fitting since Spears has met with William Orbit, who produced that album, and is said to be working with Mirwais, another Madonna producer. And Durst described his work with Spears as having a trip-hop vibe, like Madonna’s “Frozen.”

“It’s got a really good groove,” Christy said of Spears’ record so far.

“She’s taking it to the next level in her career,” the Matrix’s Scott Spock added. “Madonna constantly takes what’s in the club and puts what she does on top of it and makes it mainstream. I think Britney is starting to embrace that concept where she’s looking to work on different stuff, instead of using the same familiar, and applying it to her.”

The Matrix have been presenting Spears with songs already written for her, as they did with Lavigne, but she has been active in tailoring them to suit herself, especially the words.

“Lyrically, it’s a little deeper, just a little more grown up, but not trying to change the world or anything,” Christy said. “The great thing about Britney is she really knows what she wants. She knows if she’s trying something on that doesn’t fit right for her. She’s like, ‘No, that’s not me.’ She’s not one to strap on some sort of fake image.”

Christy is particularly excited about a track called “Shadow.” “She just kills it,” the British producer said. “It’s amazing. I was really impressed with her vocal ability on it.”

Although Spears’ album will be different, Spock said fans need not worry. “I don’t think they will be freaked out or upset,” he said. “I think they’ll be really into what’s going to happen.”

Britney’s spokesperson would not confirm the producers for the still-untitled album but said it’ll probably be out in October.

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