In the day of short attention spans, social media, and 3D television it’s hard to find a Hip Hop album that doesn’t bore the crap out of you with random filler and guest spots. Some of today’s hottest Hip Hop artists such as Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Game have all released critically acclaimed albums in the fall of 2011. Although their albums have had no problem climbing the charts I can’t help but feel an emptiness when I listen to them. It’s as if they’re devoid of innovation. What made these artists big in the first place was their hunger to be the best, and while Jay Z sits on his throne watching Hip Hop from afar newcomers like NOTAR are suiting up to be the music industry’s next big thing.
“You Came to Watch Me Die/I Seen It All Before/But You Will Never Take Me Out Cause I’m the Matador!” is one of NOTAR’s many tongue twisting proverbial quips that takes you for a ride on his debut album, Devil’s Playground, another album released this past fall. “The “devil’s playground” is a reference to my life in New York City and I use it as a template to explain the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and the dark side of the canyons of New York,” NOTAR describes. “And while the devil must be laughing his ass off, I’m still standing here, still working and still creating!” As one of the album’s producers NOTAR put together 13 tracks with enough G-Force in them to make fighter pilots look like pussies. “Reach,” featuring Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessionals is a blitzkrieg of raw emotion in the form of machine gun raps and honest lyrics which anyone who has ever lost a loved one can relate to. On the song “Perseverance,” NOTAR name drops every band he can think of to tell a colorful story about the trials and tribulations of a guy leading a life of crime, “He Started Smoking White Stripes ‘Cause He Liked The Rush/Cruise the City Block with Iggy Pop Just Selling Drugs/Started Getting Big, But a Little Sloppy Too/Almost Got Popped By Some Dude in Motley’s Crue,” not only depicts his ability to play with words, but also gives you an idea about the kind of music he’s been exposed to throughout his life.
“When your father, who has sat in with legends like Maynard Ferguson and Chicago, is listening to Earth Wind & Fire in one room and your older sister to Slick Rick in another room, I realized that music comes in all different form and sounds, so I was inspired to combine as many as I could into my interpretation of music,” NOTAR explains. “I am constantly writing, and my music paints a picture of events from my life.” On the song “Stranger,” NOTAR is accompanied by Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows, and the person responsible for signing NOTAR to Tyrannosaurus Records. With Duritz on the chorus, NOTAR sings from the perspective of friends and family who served in Baghdad and delivers an emotionally charged point of view of those serving in the war. “NOTAR’s flow is absolutely blistering,” Duritz says. “He spits with incredible speed and syncopation while constantly changing the rhyme schemes and the rhythm of his flow, never sticking to the same pattern for too long, and constantly surprising me.”
Most fans today will say a Hip Hop album is good if they like more than half the songs. Only 50% percent of the music has to be listenable for fans to be into it, but it’s those artists who put out albums that rock from start to finish that get to sit on the throne. After listening to Devil’s Playground it looks like NOTAR is hungry enough and talented enough to get there. Like he says on the song “Superstar,” “This is the time to be a Superstar/Can’t Stop Now/We’ve Come Too Far/This is the Time to be NOTAR!”