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Northern State 

Dying in Stereo (Interscope)

Northern State is three suburban white girls doin' hip-hop like the Beastie Boys, only better. With feminist shout-outs, self-esteem-drivin' rhymes, and mad knowledge of rhythmic displacement, the delightfully named Hesta Prynn, Guinea Love, and DJ Sprout spit out rhymes that stick up for the First Amendment and extol the virtues of havin' a good time. They have especially choice words for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on "Signal Flow": "There's art on the billboard/ Yes in this big city/And yeah that shit is big/But it sure ain't pretty/They're busy scrubbin' true art off the walls/Taking the power from the people and the freedom scrawl."

The girls, informed as they are by the old, old school, bounce the monosyllabic word around like a beach ball between the beats, giving the verbal beatdown to the power structure, whatever it may be ("I'm not that girl, you don't wanna fuck with me/I'm-a get more brutal than the NYPD," from "The Man's Dollar"). Not only are their messages more accessible to the ears than those of the latter-day Beasties; their beats just rock harder.

More by Jessica Nelson


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