Northern State, Columbus, OH, Promowest Pavilion, October 21, 2004
Although hip-hop act Northern State says nothing controversial in their lyrics, the act doesn't refer to women as bitches and hoes and they don't rap about the bling they supposedly own, this trio has been one of the most questioned hip-hop bands to come along in a while. Why? Because Northern State is three white chicks from suburban New York who bring a positive message of female empowerment to their lyrics and a full ensemble band with them on tour. Northern State is the exact opposite of popular hip-hop, and when change is coming, people tend to lash out.

Northern State brought that message of dignity and respect, along with a great band (nope, no tracking for these girls) to Promowest Pavilion to open for Cake. And although the mix may seem a bit strange, Hesta Prynn says to her it seems like a perfect fit.

"I love Cake and traditionally, Cake fans are open to all types of music. If we came out with tracked beats and just rapped, we wouldn't be able to cut it. But because we have a live band with us, I think the Cake fans are really understanding what we are doing and they dig it."

For 40 minutes, Northern State, a.k.a. Prynn, Sprout and Spero, battled through songs from their first major label release, All City, like any back-alley rapper. Stand out tracks on the record and live had to be Girls for All Seasons and Time to Rhyme. But for the entire 40 minutes, many Cake diehards could be seen swaying from, "Who they hell are these girls?" to "Hey, these girls are pretty good." Northern State may turn out to be one of the most influential hip-hop bands of our time. Like many of the forefathers of rap, Northern State may not be chart toppers or millionaires, but they are starting a movement among the non-traditional hip-hop fans. While we like to have stereotypes of who listens to rap and hip-hop, it would not be a multi-million dollar industry without fans in the 'burbs and in the boonies. Hip hop is not just a musical movement, but it is quickly becoming a culture. And Northern State is lending a voice to those that are currently not represented by those singing in the movement. Northern State is not hiding nor apologizing for who they are or where they come from. These three girls are proud to be the white chicks from decent families with a positive message for anyone who will listen.

For Northern State, hip hop is not necessarily associated with guns, diamonds and cars. It is a musical form that can uplifting and positive. Live, they perform like three kids in a candy store are still a little surprised they are given free reign to do what they want. Still a little green on stage, Northern State is still solid enough to captivate those in the crowd and still naïve enough to be fan-friendly and approachable. In 20 years, as hip-hop starts to reflect its entire audience, people will probably talk about Northern State and what they brought to the table. And we can say we saw them when.