No Idle Hands Here
New York has proved to be a breeding ground for up and coming rappers. Now we have Notar, a Connecticut native, trying to make it big in the city. With the backing of Adam Duritz of Counting Crows fame, Notar’s debut album Devil’s Playground showcases an artist with varying musical interests and real potential for success.
The record mixes R & B, hip hop, rock, pop and funk – an interesting combination in a rap album, albeit a bit of a distraction. When listening to the album in its entirety, the switches in style take away from its overall flow and give it a disjointed feel. “You Went Away” is a perfect example of this. The song begins tenderly with a rising anger reminiscent of Eminem and a catchy chorus. All of this while singing about heavy subject matter – the death of people close to him. At the end, Notar throws in a very pretty piano solo – but it comes out of left field and as such makes the song sound unpolished.
Overall, Notar’s lyrical sensibilities are more prone to real problems – personal and political – than traditional rap subjects such as women and getting drunk/high. In this regard he comes across as more collegial, early Kanye or even Immortal Technique.
Because the album is kind of schizophrenic in sound presentation, mainstream listeners will probably get a good helping of Notar from singles “Reach,” featuring Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, and the funkified “Stranger,” featuring Adam Duritz. These collaborations really shows off Notar’s potential. The former one will bring it home for all the club kids out there, while latter has the ever present catchiness of a Counting Crows album.
Devil’s Playground doesn’t offer anything startling or new to the hip-hop scene, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable record by a new artist with loads of potential. If Notar can hone his sound identity, he might become a star.