The term band exists for rock, and I guess for pop too. For hip hop, the term group is used, but I’d like to make a case that Northern State might actually be the first female hip hop band. Named after a highway in Long Island, New York, Northern State comprises of Robyn “Sprout” Goodmark, Julie “Hesta Prynn” Potash, and Correne “Spero” Spero.
With two albums (Dying In Stereo, All City) already under their belt, the world was waiting for the third (Can I Keep This Pen?) to be released on August 14, 2007. Until then, the group/band released the limited edition Better Already EP, available only digitally or on vinyl.
The title track is very upbeat with the infectious chorus repeating for much of the song, which summarizes the band’s attitude at this stage in their musical career (“The truth be told, we are better already”). “Better Already” (see video here) is a good example of how the group takes advantage of each girl’s distinctive voice. Each girl adds a different layer to the song, either it being a firm and forceful rap verse or a calm verse leading into the expansive chants.
You couldn’t get a more opposite song to the title track than with “Away Away” with its supreme mellowness than if it was an a cappella ballad. Somehow Northern State is able to create such depth and atmosphere in its songs.
On the second side of the vinyl, remix versions of both tracks are included. Like any remix, extra beats and an increased electronic sound are added. In the case of “Better Already (Hired Goons PVC Remix)” the vocals are subdued and the electronic beat sound is amplified. Any change between “Away Away (Dub Remix)” (download mp3 here) and the original is unnoticeable.
That’s the catch of remixing an already electronic sound. Northern State has a very hyper sound, which gives the ladies more of a band feeling rather than a laid-back group sound. Although, either way you look at it they’re good, and I’ll reckon NS will be on lots of dance club playlists if they’re not on already.
[photo via Kanine Records]
[photo via Salon]
- 1. Better Already
2. Away Away
3. Better Already (Hired Goons PVC Remix)
4. Away Away (Dub Remix)