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All City

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Album Review

Northern State's blending of riot grrrl sloganeering into Paul's Boutique nostalgia and up-to-the-second references ("I'm a full grown woman, once a gifted child/And this is Northern State, not Girls Gone Wild" — rap it in the cadence of Mike D) works pretty well on All City, their Sony debut. Great title, too. There is a nagging in the back of the skull, though, one that wonders just what it all means between the props to Brooklyn, strong displays of self-confidence, and shout-outs to Carrie Bradshaw and Chang Kai Shek. But this notion has nothing to do with Hesta Prynn, Spero, and Sprout's gender, or even their erudite candor. It's just the feeling you'd get from hearing any just-decent hip-hop record. (Cassidy's Split Personality, anyone?) Northern State stick doggedly to their three-way microphone format, and there are occasional lapses in the lyrics department. But hip-hop's as famous for half-baked full-lengths as it is for beats and braggadocio, so a focus on its strong side is all it takes to make All City a champ. The slow-motion cool of the Muggs-produced "Style I Bring" seems influenced by the Beasties' "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun," and "Girl for All Seasons" is the requisite X-chromosome anthem, but don't peg Northern State as no-fun feminists or bookish prudes. The loosely funky party jam "Last Night" rhymes "anus" with "champagne us," and "Summer Never Ends" is completely, utterly irresistible. With guest Har Mar Superstar ("Three MCs Hesta P, Spero, Sprout and me/Are gonna bone the f*ck out to the next party!"), Northern State turn in the latest, greatest track for warm-weather livin' in the city, with soft references to '80s electro (think Shannon) just for fun. Pete Rock produces the throwback-styled "Time to Rhyme," and Long Island homies (and touring backup band) Groove Bros contribute strongly in various instrumental capacities throughout All City. The whole album might not make it into your rotation. But its singles are gold for the iPod shuffle.


Formed: 2000 in Long Island, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

The New York-based rap trio Northern State are no funky divas. Julie "Hesta Prynn" Potash, Correne "Guinea Love" Spero, and Robyn "DJ Sprout" Goodmark formed the hip-hop-centric rap outfit in 2000. They're college-educated and slick in checking rhymes, rearing to give rap a new face in the new millennium. Potash, who earned a degree in theater and served on Hillary Clinton's 2000 senatorial campaign, first met Spero and Goodmark while attending Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills, Long Island,...
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All City, Northern State
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