Christgau aside (and I don't usually trust his "they mentioned John Kerry! A" reviews), that last Northern State album sure got a bad rap, didn't it? I finally listened to the thing (Sara, I don't know what I'd be doing these days without your evergrowing music collection to intake, besides getting some work done) and it's pretty enjoyable! The nu-metal choruses on the Muggs tracks are a bad idea and there's nothing quite up to the level of "Vicious Cycle" or "At The Party," but the energy and themes are unique enough to make the album rewarding. I don't know how people can put up with Common or Sage Francis but not these three. Evidently All City sold something like 7,000 copies despite being on a major label (got dropped, obv), but thankfully they haven't broken up.
Speaking of Common, "Testify" has to be one of the most baffling hits in recent years. Braggadocio, misogyny, misanthropy, love pap, maudlinness, self-pity, incoherency - most awful tracks are still explicable due to selfishness and/or incompetence. But why did Common feel the need to tell this trite, hokey story in the first place? What are we supposed to get from the unexplained twist ending? Doesn't it contradict the sentiments of the previous verses? And how can any human being find the hook pleasurable? Common's supposed to be a highly intelligent rapper, what with the hat and all, but I'm still waiting for some evidence. I remember liking "I Used To Love H.E.R." in high school, but every track I've heard since has been some combination of forgettable, milquetoast and cheese.