Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Hip Hop You Haven't Heard
Northern State

On a four-song ep they thought was a demo, the three Long Islanders who comprise Northern State are everything you want underground hip-hop to be, everything you want white hip-hop to be and everything you want female hip-hop to be. They're DIY as all get-out without hinting at underground puritanism, and they front musicians who know their beats. They honor their black elders while referencing a culture that also includes Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, softball, eggplant skinning and Beverly Hills 90210. They're pro-choice and say so, but they also boast about keeping their lips together and their teeth apart. DJ Sprout, Guinea Love and the angular-voiced Hesta Prynn rap with LL Cool J clarity over well-conceived beats and samples that will gain complexity after a record company throws money. Their meters will get trickier, too. There are no sure shots anymore, and maybe they'll prove too smart for the marketers. But they're certain to get their run.

Rolling Stone, Aug. 22, 2002