Title - 'Devil's Playground' (Tyrannosaurus Records)
Artist - Notar
Tyrannosaurus Records’ artist, NOTAR, a rapper, musician and producer released his eagerly awaited debut full-length CD, Devil’s Playground this September.
Devil’s Playground follows NOTAR’s self-titled 2010 EP, which garnered much attention from press and fans alike. Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz who discovered and signed NOTAR to his label, Tyrannosaurus Records, found NOTAR’s “words so clear, so lucid, and so brilliant” that he knew he had no choice but to work with the gritty genre defying performer.
On the opening Intro track, kids can be heard playing in a school play ground whilst Notar stutters some words out. And then we're straight into the title track, a song that sounds like Notar is happy to be Eminem's understudy. Next track 'Matador' is truly a great song, but is yet another track that grasps at the sound of another Detroit, MI native, Kid Rock.
The house sound of 'Reach' comes as a surprise, given what we had just listened to, but is a welcome chance to see how far Notar can musically stretch. Then we're into 'Stranger,' a less hardcore track, and one that gently rhymes its way along. A tad bit akin to a restrained Eminem, for me it is one of the best tracks on the album.
On 'Alcoholic' (a song that you tend to believe is very autobiographical), New Haven, Connecticut rapper Notar raps about being an alcoholic and a slave to drugs that break/broke him down before his very eyes. Pushing the boundaries of hip-hop music, blending rock, funk, and pop, with his roots in jazz, Notar then gives us a the freeflowing synth-powered 'Choose to Run.'
The sedate 'Perseverance' is next and gives us a gentle, sway-flow that lyrically drops so many big band names its hard to keep up! The trippy 'Superstar' follows, and once the guitar sounds kick in it soon turns into another great song. 'High Til I Die' is, sorry, nothing more than filler, before the large, orchestral-sounding 'Seasons Change' is upon us.
Closing the album out are both 'Whatever You Need' (filler) and the orchestra-flow of 'You Went Away,' which itself has a beautiful piano outro attached. But what surprises me is that on his website, Notar streams a cover of the Johnny Cash track, 'Hurt.' Featuring a distorted chorus from the song, Cash's voice still today resonates magnificently and so it is a HUGE shame it isn't on this CD.
Other tracks showcased on his website are 'Blood Brothers,' a track recorded with rock band Papa Roach, 'Killed A Man,' and a crackling 'Notar's Nebula.' None of which, again, are on this CD, sadly.
Anyway, this eagerly awaited debut full-length CD, put out on Tyrannosaurus Records, a label counting Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) as its founder, is well worth your money. But, don't make the mistake that you're gonna find anything new here - freshly redesigned in some cases, sure, but nothing groundbreaking.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk