Northern State

Dying in Stereo

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Northern State's Hesta Prynn boasts "I'm timeless, I write when I rhyme this" on the title track to her group's debut album, and such a call is right on. The ladies of Northern State deliver funky breaks and tight grooves on Dying in Stereo, and keep the hip-hop flavor without being vulgar and crass. Prynn, DJ Sprout, and Guinea Love formulate their own provocative, smart rhymes similar to what Queen Latifah and MC Lyte were rapping about in the decade before, and teach current gangstas and pranksters a lesson or two about keeping things real. They talk about everyday life without the violence and have fun razzing on pop culture, but an underlying social awareness is there. Crafting a funkadelic, quirky kind of poetic jam is their forte, and inside their three-part Luscious Jackson-like harmonies and rough-edged rhymes, the momentum of Dying in Stereo just won't stop. Bold lines like "I'll be dressed all in black just like Johnny Cash, three-part harmonies like Crosby, Stills & Nash" on "Trinity" capture their spunk, while the sultry basslines of "The Man's Dollar" are tailor-made for the independent woman and social nonconformist. They make it clear from the start that they won't be pigeonholed in terms of music or gender; check out the score on "Signal Flow (You Can't Fade Me)." If that's not convincing, the sinister edge of "All the Same" will let you know that Northern State won't be played. They've arrived at a time where candied pop/rock could very well do that; however, Dying in Stereo finds a brassy, cool rap collective behind the mic.

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