Can I not keep this CD?

By Gus Bode

Northern State

“Can I Keep This Pen”

Release Date: Sept. 4, 2007


Record Label: Ipecac Recordings

2 out of 5

In a realm where talented hip-hop stars with original rhymes like Eminem or Kanye West succeed, Northern State’s new album really doesn’t cut it.

The third album released by the trio, dubbed “Can I keep this Pen?”, uses catchy rhymes that flow nicely and show a lot of talent when it comes to song writing. The background music also compliments the lyrics and is enjoyable to jam to.

Unfortunately, the catchiness of the rhymes and overall keyboards and bass don’t make up for the somewhat elementary and generic nature of the songs. The album would be well-suited for pre-teens just getting into hip-hop but probably won’t be resting on shelves with the likes of Dr. Dre or the Beastie Boys anytime soon. The album may fit in well with a 2000’s version of Vanilla Ice, though.

Northern State’s lyrics contain not-so-witty, unoriginal and somewhat basic insults at both government and society in general.


When the members of Northern State say, “I heard your mom drives an ice cream truck,” or, “Now I am broke as a joke in the month of May,” the words rhyme well and show some sort of talent, but don’t have the strongest impact in the hip-hop world in general.

The band has definitely shown they have progressed since their release of “All City” through songs such as “Better Already” or “Away, Away.” Both do a great job of combining a typical fast-paced, spoken-rap style with a more sentimental, emotional tone that helps bring some variation to the songs. Both songs are mellow and show the singing abilities of the group as they sing about what seems to be the pain of losing somebody close.

The new style and the variations in songs are in contrast to songs off earlier albums such as “At The Party” or “Girl For All Seasons,” which tend to go from rhyme to rhyme with little variation and not a lot of emphasis on the use of bass or a drum machine.

Overall, the catchy rhymes and keyboards of the new album and the general progress of the band make it easy to listen to, but the elementary nature of the songs and the annoying lyrics make the CD not worthy of a second or third listen.

Eugene Clark can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]