Pen is Mightier?
M.I.A., Yo Majesty! and Peaches made female hip-hop hipster friendly after fusing electro club beats with girl power lyricism. All-girl trio Northern State brings a pop songstress approach to this formula with fewer synonyms for sexual intercourse and lighthearted hooks. Chuck Brody of Shitake Monkey and Beastie Boy Ad-Rock kick it on the ones and twos for their latest release Can I Keep This Pen?, settling Northern State as the Dixie Chicks of indie hip-hop and maybe just as inoffensive.Mic Tester throws down quirky, playful yet well-written rhymes in a less than 2-minute introduction. An overall cuteness almost makes this track a selection on an MC Chris album. Perhaps further along Pen, the confused bubblegum will wither with hopes of urban rage?
Unfortunately, the listener bounces between Joan Jett and Avril Lavigne with semi-sincerity and playground gossip. You would think by now Northern State would consider their third album a departure of lyrical, teen-friendly irony, but seeing as a Beastie Boy partook in Pen‘s creation, Northern State has fought for their right to party. To add insult to injury, neither Spero, Sprout, nor Hesta Prynn have “rap voices” that sound even the slightest bit different from each other.
Even with the political and social commentary of “Sucka Muthafucka” and its expletive-laden title, it barely touches base with anything remotely more high school than “We hate Bush!” or “Yay, we’re Democrats!”
It’s a shame that talented vocalists who can harmonize with the likes of Bizzy and Layzie Bone aren’t using their voices to inspire their generation and are content with wasting finely tuned pop sensibility on ’90s-like innocence. Who knows? Maybe this nation needs less cynicism and more Lisa Loeb.