Based on the publicist who passed this to me I was honestly expecting “Love & Hate” to be a hip-hop album, so I thought nothing of it when the “Love & Hate Intro” featured a gravelly voiced toaster setting up the project/mixtape. I pictured Don Jagwarr adding his vocals to Ice Cube’s “Wicked” in my head – only Don Jagwarr stopped when the song did. Daddie Notch just keeps going, and after a few songs I realized that was indeed what I was in for. He’s also known as Top Notch in a group called Bankai Fam, and eventually you do get around to them spitting bars in combination with Daddie on tracks like “DeJa Vu.”
Unintentionally I wound up like Daddie better even though it was hip-hop I was waiting for, because verses of nostalgic bars (one in particular is a whole stream-of-consciousness Wikipedia rap jumping from one old school artist to the next) just didn’t light my fire at all. The Astronote production was pleasant enough, so I’d still listen to it again, but all the while I’d be wishing for more of Daddie Notch’s gruff crooning. It’s on this mixtape’s truly solo tracks that the release shines, as the patois flow on “Free Us” gets cranked up way past 10. Daddie flows like he smoked ten thousand trees before hitting the booth, and he doesn’t try to hold back his delivery or intensity one bit. “TAKE A LOOK INNA DE STREETS” screams Mr. Notch, howling the pain as he’s set upon by the wickedness of Babylon. “We are living in a serious time, and we must come together AS ONE!!!”
Be warned in advance that this is a fairly massive release – they’re offering 39 tracks here for only $7 – which is either an incredible bargain or a total overload after you’ve heard that much of Daddie Notch and his friends. I can honestly say it’s going to be polarizing and fall entirely on whether or not you have an appreciation for dancehall and reggae styles ahead of time. One advantage though is that because this technically falls into the “mixtape” category they can throw just about anybody Daddie or the Fam worked with into the mix. A perfect example is the underrated producer Kyo Itachi, who laces up the song “Neva Run Away.” Skanks drops bars I can respect, Daddie rapid fires his flow on the beat, and Itachi produces a hypnotizing beat that seems to fade in and out as it pulls your ear drums closer to the audio source producing the rugged riddim.
Some tracks lean harder toward the reggae stylee (“Easy Gal” and “Inna De Streets” are two obvious contenders) while some you’d suspect were island vibes based on the titles (“Lick a Shot”) are anything but. Over the course of the album the one Bankai Fam member I gain the most appreciation for is Skanks, so I have to say if they were whittled down to a duo where he spit bars and Notch sung the hooks I’d probably cop their album in a heartbeat. On the whole there’s just a little too much of “Love & Hate” for every song to work, but Notch has that “it factor” or if you prefer “charisma” to suck you into a song. For me he’s like a modern day version of Capleton – just musical enough to make his rough chatta mesmerizing.