The past few years have been an interesting ride for Wu leader/beat genius RZA. For every moment of brilliance (his score for Kill Bill, Bobby Digital), there have been moments to balance the brilliance out. And while Northstar isn't up on the mantle with some of the aforementioned projects, it certainly proves the case that RZA can certainly rise to the occasion when motivated. A pair of tracks from house producer Armand Van Helden show up here but mesh in seamlessly, no doubt a testament to Van Helden's versatility behind the mixing board. Two non-Wu members (Christ Bearer and Meko) make their debut and present a convincing case that RZA's success isn't necessarily dependent upon other members of the Wu-Tang. And while there are moments where Christ Bearer and Meko's West Coast style shine through, the sparse beats bring the tracks back from sounding too dated (i.e., the entire Death Row catalog from 1996 to the present). That said, Northstar is an impressive debut and serves as a reminder that one of hip-hop's most innovative producers isn't down for the count just yet.
AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston