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Northern State Start the Party

Northern State
Dying in Stereo

Picture three energetic MCs, some in-your-face feminist politics and one very danceable album–and no, they’re not Le Tigre (though they are thanked in the liner notes). Meet Northern State, an all-female rap group that bring steady beats, smart rhymes and some serious party stamina to a genre dominated by bling-bling excess and arrogant boys.

Hesta Prynn, DJ Sprout and Guinea Love became something of a phenomenon a couple of months ago when their four-track demo, Hip Hop You Haven’t Heard, made waves in New York’s insular music scene and earned them props on MTV. Named after the expressway that runs through their Long Island home base–the “other” New York where kids grew up with malls but claim city cred–Northern State have grown tired of the inevitable Beastie Boys comparison. But one thing’s for sure: None of them would stand for the Beasties’ sexism of old. These liberal arts grads “write what [they] know, [they] know a lot” (on “Vicious Cycle”) and their polemic raps target everyone from MTV to CNN: “I’m like the Dorothy Parker when I run with the boys, I’mma break that shit up like Brenda and Dylan,” as Guinea Love says on “The Man’s Dollar.” Dying in Stereo doesn’t quite measure up to their exuberant live shows, but maybe that’s because you can get all sweaty and enthusiastic knowing you’re at one of the few shows in town where not getting groped is a guarantee.

Grade: B