I do enjoy the new Northern State album. I think it’s a nice step forward for the group, and returns them to their roots by avoiding the pitfalls I saw in their major label debut while still managing to move into new musical territory.
So I open up today’s Pitchfork review section (because I am super-special and the elves at Pitchfork actually print out a tabloid version of the site and deliver it to my doorstep alongside my other periodicals each morning) and see that they too have written about the band’s new disc. And they give it a 5.0. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I dig that, so I read through the review to see where they believe the band stumbled.
The first five lengthy paragraphs do a nice job summing up the group‘s career to this point and describing much of the content on the new album. And I’m surprised because it’s all so … positive. The whole review is basically saying the group deserves some respect and does a decent job of what they do, given their backgrounds. It reads like a critical review should, taking context and history into account.
So I’m flummoxed when, in paragraph number six, the reviewer suddenly turns around and shreds the band, and the disc, to pieces. It comes off almost as if the reviewer just couldn’t bring themselves to admit they enjoyed what they heard for fear that the “real” hip-hop underground would tease them and pull their hair. Which is ludicrous, since at no point is Northern State trying to gain themselves any sort of cred outside of the undestanding that their music is driven by a certain pop sensibility colored by a modest social conscience.
I have no problem with people slamming albums, but I think you need to make your case solidly when doing so, and don’t just rely on a knee-jerk reaction born out of the fear that you may not be taken seriously for enjoying something you, well, enjoy.