Silky reggae vocalist Notch, from ‘90s dancehall duo Born Jamericans, has been making the rounds on his own for the past several years, and going solo hasn’t hurt him one bit. As his new album, Raised By The People (on Cinco Por CInco), testifies, the honey-throated crooner is both artistically versatile and vocally pitch-perfect.
Notch went solo in 1998 after recording two albums on Delicious Vinyl with partner Headly Shine as Born Jamericans. After the duo went their separate ways, Notch continued to rack up hits such as “Nuttin No Go So,” on Tony Kelly’s Buy Out riddim, and “V.I.P.,” on Black Chiney’s Kopa riddim.
Notch revisited his D.C. stomping grounds (where he attended high school and formed Born Jamericans) in 2002 to record the title track on Thievery Corp’s album The Richest Man In Babylon (ESL). Since then, he’s embraced the Latin market with several huge reggaeton hits, including 2004’s Spanish radio smash “Hay Que Bueno.” Not surprising from an artist whose own multicultural background provided a blueprint for his globetrotting sound.
Notch’s music is a reflection of his eclectic background. He was born to an African-American mother of Portuguese, Native American, and Caribbean descent who always encouraged him to pursue his talent, and a Jamaican father with Afro-Cuban and French blood, who, as a professional bass player, introduced Notch to the world of reggae music and encouraged him to tap into his Latin roots. He’s done both masterfully on the recently released Raised By The People.
“Dale Pa' Tra,” featuring Yaviah, is the lead single from the album, an acoustic guitar-led reggaeton track that alternates between Spanish and English lyrics, and bouncy beats with lots of dips and drops. Just as infectious is the uptempo “Que Te Pica,” a merengue-influenced reggaeton track that unexpectedly bursts into a frantic 4/4 beat. The Latin material is every bit as lively and well-sung as Notch’s dancehall work. He keeps ragga heads happy with tracks like the SupaDupes-produced “Bun Out Bad Mind.”
The combination of Latin reggaeton, Caribbean rhythms, and Jamaican dancehall sounds make Raised By The People one of 2007’s most innovative and genre-hopping world fusion recordings. Notch puts it best: “I’m an artist that’s committed to becoming one of many musical bridges, connecting cultures of the world together.”