We gave it a B+
Since Queen Latifah went Hollywood and Lauryn Hill went folk-mama, it’s been hard to find female rappers — Missy Elliott excepted — to get excited about. But with offbeat newbies Jean Grae, Mystic, Jessy Moss, Fannypack, and Northern State, the drought may be over. Named for a main drag in their hometown on Long Island, Northern State — Hesta Prynn, DJ Sprout, and Guinea Love — generated buzz last year with ”Hip Hop You Haven’t Heard,” a four-song demo that sounded like the product of AP English students with a well-worn copy of the Beastie Boys’ ”Licensed to Ill.” Their self-released mini-LP Dying in Stereo (getting official release this week by hipster-rock pimps StarTime) rewinds most of it, with new stuff in the same old-school vein — utilitarian beats, charmingly lumpy flow, and some of the more amusingly literate rhymes around. From ”A Thousand Words”: ”The country’s getting ugly and there’s more in store/But don’t blame me ’cause I voted for Gore/Keep choice legal/Your wardrobe regal/Chekhov wrote ”The Seagull”/Snoopy is a beagle.” The trio recently signed with Columbia; with real production dollars and accomplished friends (including De La Soul and tourmates the Roots), odds are good they’ll transcend their impressive white-girl novelty act. All hail the queens-to-be.