The Burnerz are a new duo consisting of Zumbi of the hip-hop group Zion I and the Houston-based Trackmasters producer, The Are. Now, after a year of scratching out rhymes, making beats, mixing, and mastering, The Burnerz—who met on tour in Europe in 2003—just completed one of the most energizing independent hip-hop albums of the year.
The Burnerz recruited The Grouch, OneBeLo, Martin Luther, and C-Holiday for the album. “Instead of going through layers of editing (like we do for Zion I),” explains Zumbi of his approach, “We tried to capture the raw emotion of both lyrics and beats for this album.”
Zumbi has always set a new standard for socially conscious hip-hop and this album is no exception. The track “The Edge” where The Grouch and Zumbi spit rhymes about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. “It's about feeling hopeless and fearful, but having just enough strength to turn around and confront one's demons,” explains Zumbi.
Born in New Haven, CT, Notar’s had two huge influences that have affected him from day one. First there’s his family’s work ethic. Having owned a grocery story in Hamden for generations, Notar’s never known a time when his family wasn’t doing for self. Second is his family’s musical side. His father was a trumpet player and it wouldn’t be long before Notar followed in his musical footsteps. Half Italian and half Lebanese, Notar went his own route musically, and it’s done him well. An emcee backed by a full band, Notar recently caught the ear of Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz, who started a label and quickly inked Notar to a deal.
Now residing in NYC, Notar has made a name for himself in the hip-hop scene there, as well, most notably at Freestyle Mondays. This week I caught up with Notar to find out more about his music, how the closing of Sin Sin, which was the longtime home of Freestyle Mondays, affected him, and how seriously we should take his blog’s title of Notar for President.