The life of a producer, even an established one, isn’t easy. You could make the illest beat...
DJBooth Album Review
So it’s only natural that producers finally realized that they could simply cut out the middle man, break down the artificial wall standing between rhymes and beats, and take control of their own destinies. Lord knows not everyone was made to grab a mic (oh I’m sorry Swizzy, I didn’t see you standing there), but there’s a select few who can capably plant their flag in both worlds (what up Black Milk), and to that list we can now add Nottz. While he may not be a household name, among hip-hop heads you’d be hard pressed to find a more respected producer than Nottz, so after lacing records for the likes of Biggie, Busta, Kanye, Snoop, 50 and too many more to name the Virgina beatsmith decided to accelerate his plans for world domination with the release of his debut solo album, You Need This Music. I’m not going to argue with the man, if you love hip-hop, you need this album.
There’s no question about Nottz beat making abilities, so I may as well start with the sure thing and say that, surprise, the production on You Need This Music is simply outstanding. Though the album contains no shortage of head-knottzers, his skill set often shines most brightly on some of the less aggressive cuts. Speaking of which, donut lovers will instantly recognize Dilla’s influence on the chopped yet somehow smooth Shine So Brite, Fair Warning is the kind of hazy joint you can hot box a car too (um, metaphorically speaking) and the beat on the soaring title track You Need This Music, well….quick side story. I’ve had Cristal once in my life, and before I took my first sip I was thinking, “how much better could this really be than your average champagne?”, but the second the bubbly hit my lips it was instantly clear I’d never be able to drink regular champagne again without longing for Cristal. Listening to You Need This, both the song and the album as a whole, is like that. You might not realize how wack the production in your headphones right now is, but you will after Nottz gets through with you.
There’s an elephant in the room, and it’s not Fat Joe. I know everyone reading this really just wants to know the answer to one question: can Nottz rap? Thankfully the short answer is yes. While in truth he probably wouldn’t make it on the strength of his rhyme skills alone, he can not only hold his own, but often impress. On The Cycle he proves that, while he can’t match his track mate Joell Ortiz (who can?), the man’s developed some legit storytelling game, and while his pen game on Never Caught Slippin’ isn’t exactly Nas-esque, he admirably holds his own. But it’s his work on I Do It For Yawl that most caught my ear as Nottz executes a complex fan mail concept with precision and skill, coming off every bit the emcee as guests Kardinal and Little Brother. It must be said that his Achilles heel is the ladies, or at least raps about ladies, as I Still Love You falls flat, the man’s just not a smooth talker, but overall those eager to listen to You Need This Music so they can tell Nottz to stay off the mic will find themselves disappointed. You can tell all the haters to Blast That.
We’re not looking at the next Kanye here (thank god, the world’s having enough trouble handling one Kanye), but while Nottz may not ever become a superstar, You Need This should only earn him more respect in a hip-hop world already brimming with respect for his work. And if, even after this review, there are still some doubters, then let me direct you to A Dream Come True. Listen and believe. Nottz is here, and he’s taking control of his own musical destiny.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Oct 20, 2010
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