What do De La Soul and Public Enemy share in common? Well besides the obvious, they both share the same origin as the tri-feminine Northern State. Who the hell is Northern State you wonder? A group of three women; Hesta Prynn, DJ Sprout, and Guinea Love, all in their early twenties, and all of whom are college educated and, as aforementioned, hailing from the lukewarm hip hop bed known as Long Island, New York.
The fact that Northern State was written up in The Rolling Stone before even dropping an LP must mean something right? The fact that they received four stars on their album review has to translate into star power right? I mean, perhaps it is just me, but Northern State are 2 entrees short of a five course meal.
They are budding with energy and optimism, they are fun, and their rhyme topics are all relevant and entertaining, it's just the element of hip hop soul that they are missing so to speak. Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina, Gangsta Boo, Mia X are all female rappers who have that gutter, ghetto in them which you can actually feel in their voices. Underground femcee, Princess Superstar doesn't have this quality, but makes up for it with her style and speed. Northern State on the other hand are three versions of the Princess Superstar attempting to come off as hardcore with the old school Beastie Boy flow (dum dee de dee de, 123,).. They use 'ouughta," "Ain't," "check it," "know what'msayin," and several other hip hop catch phrases, yet their delivery just isn't home. Though, all isn't loss, there are flashes of potential.
Dying in Stereo begins with "A Thousand Words," a political awareness track touching on topics of America, "the country's getting ugly and there's more in store, but don't blame me I voted for gore." The beat is nuts, with a drop kick and superb bass along with a tingling melody. Hesta Prynn and Guinea Love are able to keep on point flow wise and ride the beat rhythmically well. On "At the Party," again the group comes with some heavy bass and a monster guitar riff before settling into a redundant breakbeat before a sub par electric guitar riff enters. On this track, the girls do their most infamous Beastie Boys impression production and rhyme wise stressing every opening verse syllable and the last syllable of every verse, "YO we rock this stage any way we want, hell I'll rock this party
like a debu-TANTE." "The Man's Dollar" is an old school feeling track with back and forth lyrics. Northern State does well in amping themselves with enthusiasm and presence. "Vicious Cycle" is a track dealing with capitalism, feminism and shotty republican politics. The following track, "Signal Flow," is a track that shouldn't have been chosen on the album. The song is eccentric and experimental as it diverges from the
Northern State Formula, as it fails to highlight the best quality of the group, which is their charisma. "All the Same" fails in the same way as the previously mentioned track save for the fact that the beat and rhythm are significant and are further strengthened by the depth of the bass. The final track, the title song, "Dying in Stereo," is a combination of breakbeats, samples, and aptly placed vocals to provide a strong finish.
Their fault is not the Beastie Boys comparison, because every artist who has ever furthered a genre has taken a piece from a past artist; but their inappropriate use of slang and overly aggressive attempt to establish toughness. The lyrics are there, "who owns wall space in the big city, the companies have billboards but that shit ain't pretty, government busy rubbing true art off the wall, the voice of the people, true art of the scrall." Even the beats and instrumentals are strong; the only thing lacking is the way they present themselves. In closing, the CD is a debut with much potential, and with the right audience backing (such as teenage girls), Northern State could blow big to TRL status. Unfortunately, what I respect about them the most may be their roadblock: they are three extremely enthusiastic, scratchy and bubblegum voiced emcees who lack sex
appeal as of now. But kudos, and much respect to them for making it this far, they have changed the system somewhat. If you're interested in fair political views, fierce feminism, or are adolescent women with low self esteem, check this CD out.