Raised by the People

On his debut solo album, Raised by the People, New York-based crooner/rapper Notch is a sonero, by definition a well-trained songsmith in the prime of his career. He´s already endured a strange musical journey; from his days in the reggae duo Born Jamerican to his later dancehall days to his latest venture: reggaeton. From an early age, he understood that he wasn´t just American. He´s Jamaican. He´s Puerto Rican. He´s Cuban. And his music symbolizes that identity. He´s been categorized as a reggaeton artist for Raised by the People, but he´s quick to reject the label. As well he should. Raised by the People flows from merengue to reggaeton to freestyle to R&B to reggae without the slightest friction. To add to the album´s mercurial nature, he sings in what he calls Spatoinglish, a mixture of Spanish, Jamaican patois, and English. While in Miami, Notch sat down with New Times to talk about his journey.

New Times: You´re part Jamaican, part Cuban, part Puerto Rican, and your MySpace page says your mother is part Portuguese.

Notch: And part American Indian. It´s a colorful family tree.

Are you trying to find an identity in reggaeton?

Uh, not really. I think reggaeton is trying to find an identity in me. I don´t speak of the same subject matters that a lot of the Puerto Rican reggaeton artists do, because I wasn´t born and raised in Puerto Rico. I´m not from the same pool of artists there that have had the same experiences.

How hard was it to transition from the patois reggae to the Spanish reggaeton?

It was difficult trying to convince the label that I used to be a part of to transition from the Jamerican reggae/dancehall/hip-hop to going to straight Latin fuse music. [They were] like, ¨Yo, we´re not accepting these songs. We´re gonna drop you if you keep singing this Latin stuff.¨

How fluent are you in Spanish?

I always tell everybody I just know Nuyorican. I know all the abuelita sayings. I understand it more than I speak it. When I speak it to a female and there´s no other English-speaking person around, she´ll be like, ¨Your Spanish is not bad at all.¨

Is reggaeton a fad?

They said hip-hop was a fad. They said rock ´n´ roll was a fad. Any new music that comes along that represents change or that the industry has to readjust to in order to find a way to capitalize off it, there are always naysayers who feel threatened by it because they´re not a part of it yet and they don´t know a way to work it out. So then it´s a fad.

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Bryan Falla