Northern State

Dying in Stereo (Interscope)

It's three suburban white girls doin' hip-hop like the Beastie Boys -- only better. That's the first thing I said to someone after hearing Northern State's four-song, already-out-of-print EP Hip Hop You Haven't Heard last summer, and I'm not changing my mind anytime soon, especially after hearing the Long Island trio's full-length debut Dying in Stereo. With feminist shout-outs, self-esteem drivin' rhymes and mad knowledge of rhythmic displacement, these girls are on caliber with progressive acts like The Roots -- their rhymes flow like honey dripping down a spoon but still kick royal ass.

How do they make such a feat? With a topnotch band makin' the beats and the MCs three. 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 just havin' a good time. The beats on Stereo are less busy and acidic than on the EP, leaving lots of room for the clever rhymes about rockin' the mike like a Jedi Knight or any way they want for that matter on "Signal Flow." Hesta Prynn and Co. use some especially choice words to hit New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg below the belt 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 monosyllablic word around like a beach ball between the beats and give 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 the latter-day Beasties, their beats also just rock harder.

 
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