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Nottz: You Need This Music

B+

Nottz

Album: You Need This Music
Label: Traffic

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For his solo debut, Virginia’s veteran producer-turned-rapper Nottz took a few pages from the Kanye West playbook. Like West, Nottz has a weakness for lush soul samples and big hooks. He also shares West’s gift for self-mythologizing. Nottz is a storyteller (as evidenced by tracks like “How Long Will It Last?”), and the story that captivates him the most is his own, a rags-to-riches narrative about a hungry kid from Virginia who fell in love with music and pursued his music dreams. Nottz’s reverence for black music’s past is evident in tracks like “A Dream Come True,” a corny spin through hip-hop heaven, and “I Still Love You,” a song that transcends its hoary hip-hop-as-romantic-relationship conceit, thanks to a lovely hook from Mayer Hawthorne, as well as an elegant beat. Like The College Dropout, the tight, focused, consistent You Need This Music is defined by urgency and hunger; for all his talent as a beatsmith and now rapper, Nottz often seems intent on making the jump from aspiring rhyme-slinger to big-time rapper through sheer force of will. On this rock-solid debut, he succeeds. Look for this student of musical history to be a major player in hip-hop’s future.