RZA’s eye for talent has severely deteriorated over the years, as the legendary producer has constantly flooded the market with less than talented Wu affiliates. Continuing this trend is Long Beach, California’s, Northstar. The duo of Christ Bearer & Meko have appeared on various Wu albums over the years such as “The Swarm Vol. 1”, “The Sting”, “The Ghost Dog Soundtrack” and Popa Wu’s “Visions Of The Tenth Chamber”. Both emcees are unique in their own ways, as their awkward flow, style and distinct voices take some time getting used to. They mirror the sounds of an East Coast group and hardly depict a style that would come out of their own coast. And while lyricism is at a minimum throughout their self titled debut, it’s the production side that offers the disappointment.
With Rza as executive producer of the album, one would assume the production would carry Christ Bearer and Meko; however, that is not the case for a majority of the album. Rza only lends his production mind to four tracks, and not surprisingly all four are some of Rza’s worst production ever. Whether he was in “Bob Digi” mode or not, the utterly simplistic sounds of “Red Rum”, “See Me” and “Destiny” are an embarrassment to not only Rza but to Northstar, who were thrown left over garbage production. The overused reggae sounds of “Red Rum” not only falters due to a simple drum pattern that probably took Rza two minutes to make, but a hook that defies the boundaries of wackness, “Northstar and the R-Z-A, red rum, red rum, red rum, run away”.
“See Me” features a more up tempo Rza beat that ultimately still fails to capture any essence of power that usually accompanies a Rza beat. However, the worst of all the Rza beats featured on the album comes from the sappy R&B sounds of “Destiny” featuring Kinetic. The simple piano loop and pop sounding melody are awkwardly placed and give the group no shot at pulling off a successful track. In fact its almost mind boggling that Rza could produce something so lurid, no matter his fall from grace the past couple of years.
The only time Christ Bearer and Meko’s dismal lyricism can be overcome is when the production aspect actually holds its own. And in the most surprising of circumstances, it comes from European house legend Armand Van Helden. While not known for his production endeavors in Hip Hop, his two efforts “Luv Allah” and “Nuttin” are easily the high points of the album. Both utilize magnificent, vocal samples, which outshine anything Rza has done the past two years. The soulful sound of “Luv Allah” is nothing short of amazing, while “Nuttin” offers more of a street influenced vibe. The rest of the album is cluttered with various tracks that entertain, such as “Crazy” and “Black Knights Of The Northstar”. However, these efforts are too far in between and fail to overshadow lurid tracks like “Duckie”, “Ballin” & “So So Serious”.
While the Wu moniker is sure to attract many to Northstar, in the end the duo just does not have the talent to make a memorable album. Neither Christ Bearer or Meko display any lyrical talent, or knack for making good songs. Both rely on outstanding production and guest appearances, which both falter on their debut release. While there are times when “Northstar” shows some promise, especially with the Armand Van Helden tracks, the majority of the album stays mired in mediocrity and inconsistency. It was really up to Rza to step up and elevate his crew, however, he failed miserably, thus “Northstar” is another album in a long list of uninspired Wu affiliate releases.