Music » CD Reviews

Northern State

All City (Columbia)


The first female answer to the Beastie Boys was the Big Apple quartet Luscious Jackson, which released one great EP on the Beasties' own label and then pursued an erratic career throughout the '90s before disintegrating. Their place has presumably been taken now by Northern State, another crew of smart, sassy, and proudly Y-chromosomeless New Yorkers, but the trio's big-label debut is far more erratic than great. Even taking into account the group's penchant for simple and direct old-school hip-hop, some of the rhymes here are elementary enough to make you wonder if these white girls aren't an affirmative-action hire by Columbia.

Still, the album does have personality (much of it supplied by the feisty Hesta Prynn) and production (with tracks contributed by legends Pete Rock and Muggs) to recommend it, and you can't fault the fella-friendly feminism of "Girl for All Seasons" or the R&B rump-shaker "Summer Never Ends," an ode to beating the heat, N.Y.C. style. Yet while no one was expecting a Paul(a)'s Boutique, Beasties comparisons aren't doing Northern State any favors at this early stage: The hopefully-titled All City would have trouble cracking hip-hop's JV team.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.