Northern State, 'Dying In Stereo' (Startime) / Fannypack, 'So Stylistic' (Tommy Boy)

6
So Stylistic
Critical Mass
Label: Tommy Boy

by Greg Milner

Northern State and Fannypack, two New York female rap trios, both obsess on hip-hop sounds that ruled before they were born. Specifically, Northern State pass the mic like the early Beastie Boys, while Fannypack's beats evoke '80s electro and J.J. Fad's "Supersonic." What really separates them is self-consciousness. Northern State are white and post-collegiate, and they won't let you forget it, because they can't either. Two-thirds of the multiculti Fannypack are still in high school, so they're blissfully unaware of how anomalous they are. Northern State assert their right to say what they want. Fannypack just say it.

Like the Beasties, Northern State's skills and we-can-do-this exuberance transcend what otherwise might be shtick. Dying in Stereo's eight songs are smarter, more fun, and less strident than most indie hip-hop. Over deceptively simple beats, gravel-voiced Guinea Love, high-pitched Hesta Prynn, and DJ Sprout name-drop Chekhov and Brand Nubian, steal rhymes from Yes and Paul Simon, razz Giuliani and the NYPD, stare at New York City's wounded skyline, and count their blessings, taking pride in where they came from and where they're going.

Meanwhile, Fannypack-who already have a hit with their single "Cameltoe"-lobby for sanctions against anyone caught parking on the dance floor. It's a little creepy hearing such adolescent voices hooked to Miami booty bass, and producers/ Svengalis Fancy and Matt Goias should be careful with impressionable minds. On "System Boomin," 16-year-old Belinda vows to resurrect "hip-house," a circa-'89 melding of rap and four-on-the-floor dance beats. If she were old enough to actually remember that year, she'd realize that may not be the best idea.

BUY NORTHERN STATE:

iTunes

BUY FANNYPACK:

iTunesAmazon

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