Today’s musical landscape is full of R&B singers that sound the same, rappers that rhyme about the same things and many reggaeton acts that lack originality. While many labels and artists try to imitate others who have succeeded, Notch is the one voice stands above that of conventional music by sticking to a style all his own that was influenced by the people of different cultures in his life. Born Norman Howell in Conn. his first musical influences came from his Jamaican father who is also part Cuban and used to play the bass for a reggae group. He also listened to salsa music and African American slang from his mother’s side, which
is Black-American and Puerto Rican.
“It rubbed off on me,” explains Notch about how his background influenced his music. “And it shows how they all touched my life.”
His recently released solo debut album, appropriately titled “Raised by the People”, shows how this unique blend of musical styles that he grew up have helped him create a trilingual blend of Spanish, English, and Jamaican patois that he call “Spatoinglish”.
“People are going to question that,” says Notch of the way he is able to sing R&B in a reggaeton track or switch from one language to another in between his songs. “I am able to sound the way I sound because I was raised by different people.”
Notch is not new to the music business, he began his career as the lead singer for the duo Born Jamericans in the early 90s. Eventually the group disbanded in 1998 and Notch decided to cultivate Latin roots through his music.
“Instead of doing the hip hop reggae, I did a lot of hardcore dancehall music, simultaneously I was working on an R&B Latin fusion, and at the time I think the reggaeton movement was blowing up,” said Notch.
Things took off when he recorded the song dancehall-style song called “Hay que Bueno”, which DJ Blass took and made a reggaeton remix and was played on radio stations in Perto Rico and major Spanish stations throughout the United States. He has since been featured on tracks with artists like Daddy Yankee, Voltio, Baby Ranks and producers Luny Tunes.
While his talent began get noticed with collaborations with Latin artists, his label at the time didn’t know how to market him, and because of all those collaborations and tours he didn’t have time to sit down and concentrate on his own album.
“Other records companies wanted to sign me, saying that they wanted me to be one kind of artist,” says Notch of his encounters with labels.
Then Machete Records came along and told him to do what he likes doing, and his new album does a great job at showing his versatility and the blending of sounds that he is known for. He locked himself down in Miami and Puerto Rico for the production and even though he didn’t get to record in Jamaica like he wanted to, some production work was sent to him from the island.
“I’m a real R&B lover, and I try to make it some way to sound reggae, make R&B sound Latin, R&B sound reggaeton. I try to get the Black-American in me try to sound like any culture that has been around me,” says Notch.
His powerful voice and unique delivery make him truly a one of a kind artist who says wants to be a force to be reckoned with in the future. He wants his name to be up there with Shakira, Daddy Yankee, Enrique Iglesias and others who are able to cater to all audiences.
“I’m probably one of the best kept secrets,” Notch said.
To hear some of Notch’s music log on to www.MySpace.com/notchonline.