Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Northern State: All City [Columbia, 2004]
Feeling they have nothing to prove and plenty to get right, Hesta Prynne, the retagged Spero, and a funkier Sprout throw themselves into what they love with no discernible concern for cred. Except insofar as all voices are different, which counts, the music on this feisty, funny rap album isn't new--just irresistible, like the regional pop crossovers of the pre-Hammer/bling era, the same golden age underground sobersides remember as the heyday of obscure Eric B. soundalikes. DJ Muggs, Pete Rock, ?uestlove, and the High and Mighty all pitch in on a record that calls up memories of Hitman Howie Tee and ends with an LFO rip that shoulda conquered Z100. Hip they're not, I know. Can't be because they're female, or white, or suburban. Right? So figure it's because they're sane--so sane they invoke John Kerry's square name. A