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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Gaining Notar-iety
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If you happened to have shopped at the Whitneyville Food Center in Hamden back in the early 90s there’s a good chance you may have seen Notar working there. Back then he was a young man simply taking part in the family business. Now he’s an accomplished emcee who’s signed to Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz’s label, Tyrannosaurus Records.

Notar’s family’s grocery store is local icon of sorts. His great grandfather on his father’s side started it and now, over 60 years after it’s opening, Notar’s mother is running things. “It’s still a small family business,” Notar explains, “really quaint, really cool.”

From his time at the store there was a work ethic Notar’s family instilled in him at an early age. In addition to that, his parents also made sure he was active in music. His father was a trumpet player and Notar remembers, “my dad handed me a trumpet mouthpiece (when I was a child) and he was like ‘go upstairs and try and make a sound out of it.’ I kinda wanted to have nothing to do with it. I wasn’t really interested in it. I liked to watch him play.”

Across the street from the grocery store, however, was a trumpet instructor, Richard Greene, who Notar says educated him on the ways of the trumpet. “I studied with him a long time, and I played in high school and kind of used that to get into college.” He also used it to continue a connection with his father after losing him to Leukemia in 1991.

Hip-hop was ever present in the background for Notar, again, thanks to his family. “My older sister used to jam out to Slick Rick in the car,” he remembers, “as far as hip-hop was concerned, she kind of schooled me in that.”

School then helped to school him even more, as during his freshman year at the University of Dayton Notar would find his calling as an emcee. He still remembers the exact moment it happened. “I saw these guys hanging out by a turntable at this party, this keg party, down in the off-campus housing at UD, and they were rappin and I was like you know what, this is what I want to do. I put my beer down, I walked all the way back up to my freshman dorm and put on the Wu-Tang ‘Triumph’ instrumental, and went at it.”

Then came the hard part - actually getting good at it.

“I was just trying to do whatever I could to hone my skills,” he remembers, “I met a great kid. His name’s Jay Schmidt. He’s one of my best in the entire world. He was hanging up a Liquid Swords GZA poster in his room and I was bangin out some instrumental in the back of my dorm room.” It turned out Schmidt shared Notar’s love of emceeing. “He was a really seasoned writer and emcee who had been doing it way longer than I had, so we started going to battles together around the Dayton area.”

While it may seem like fate dealt Notar a bit of a cruel hand having him figure out he wanted to be an emcee after he left the New York City area, he feels a little differently about things. “You’re ready in life to do certain things at certain times,” he explains, “and I brought that definite east coast flavor out there, so it was kind of even cooler because I stood out.”

Notar did stand out, and after returning home and moving to NYC, one of the ears his music happened to catch was Duritz’s. A mutual friend had played Notar’s demo for Duritz and he dug what he heard so much he decided to work with Notar and sign him to his label. The two recently recorded a song together titled “Stranger” and they performed it together at Notar’s EP release party at R Bar in NYC last month.

That wasn’t the only big moment of the night for Notar, though. At another point during his performance, Notar, who almost always performs with a live band, saw legendary freestyle emcee iLLspoKinN in the crowd. The two met years ago at Freestyle Mondays, a weekly event ILLspoKinN hosts in the city with singer Mariella that Notar says “changed my life.” Seeing him in the crowd, Notar pulled him on stage and had him join him for a quick freestyle session. “If I was at the VMAs or Grammys and he was in the front row I’d probably still pull him up.”

From working at his family’s grocery store to performing on stage with Adam Duritz in front of a packed house, it’s already been quite the journey for Notar, and it’s only going to get wilder. His full length debut, titled Devil’s Playground, is scheduled to drop in March.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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