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by Andreas Hale
20 January, 2004@12:00 am
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      As the Wu dynasty fades further and further into obscurity, another Wu affiliate emerges to attempt to salvage the name that RZA  and company made famous a decade ago. Never mind the feeble attempts set forth in the past (Killa Beez, Cappadonna, etc) this time the RZA reaches to the opposite coast to nab a duo that he feels may make a very imperative testimony. Hailing from Long Beach comes Christ Bearer and Meko AKA Northstar whose debut attempts to fuse the Wu influence with some West Coast funk. With their debut, RZA presents Northstar, they undertake the responsibility of bearing the Wu cross and taking it to another level, Cali style.

     As the album opens with the promising production of “Luv Allah” featuring a soulful sped up vocal sample, it seems that Northstar’s debut may possibly hit the mark. Unfortunately, as soon as the duo snatches the mic and lends the track vocals, it becomes evident that this is an awkward alliance. Throughout their debut the two emcees unpolished styles just don’t seem to mesh well with the production. Though some tracks do work, such as the Mathematics  produced “We Got It” and “Black Knights of the Northstar”, while others such as the clumsy “Crazy” underline how inferior this offering is. Christ Bearer stands out with his faulty delivery and even more atrocious lyrics (“Too many hoes yelling Christ Bearer save me/Bitches can’t swim cause the water too wavy”). The overtly annoying hook of “So So Serious” combines mediocre lyrics with their supposed catch phrase which just comes off blasphemous. The two emcees simply have no idea what it takes to make a song, much less a good one. Their off tilt humor is even more suspect once one gets a whiff of the two skits which have got to be nominated for ill advised skits of the year.                  

     Production on this debut is spotty and unbalanced at best.  When the RZA gets behind the boards the results are of the ho-hum variety. It just seems as if the RZA has lost that touch that made him famous. As he scatters four tracks of his production throughout their debut, one has to wonder if these were throwaway tracks from his other shot down projects. From the
lazy “Red Rum” to the terribly wack and sappy “Destiny”, RZA drops his stock to levels unknown. Even more horrific is when DR Period lends his wayward touch with the simply ghastly “Ballin”, which drags an imprudent sample of Tony Toni Tone’s “Anniversary” into the depths of hip-hop hell.  Mathematics does drop in to give the album a hint of dignity with both “We Got It” and “Duckie”, but only to by sucked dry by the surrounding production.

    The one promising element of this debut is the two tracks produced by the European house import Armand Van Helden. Even though he is not yet known for his endeavors in hip-hop, the aforementioned “Luv Allah” and the throbbing “Nuttin’” displays the potential of this beat smith which is unfortunately bogged down by Northstar’s verbal arsenal (or lack thereof). Both
tracks are dope as hell especially the nasty vibe of “Nuttin” as Armand weaves a moving sample amongst a head snapping track. Too bad that his introduction to hip-hop had to be on this album.

    Though it is evident that the RZA’s value has diminished almost entirely over the past few years, it seems that his vision of what is ill has gone way over his fans heads. As unbalanced as Northstar’s debut is, one has to wonder who should shoulder the blame for this release. Is it the out of place emcees whose lyrics are marred by inconsistency and mediocrity, or the production which probably should have carried their hapless load. Who knows. But one thing is for sure, you can chalk this one up as another uninspired Wu-affiliate release.

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