Last year, Joell Ortiz dropped his debut album, “The Brick: Bodega Chronicles.” It landed like, well, a brick. Nobody I know picked up on it, and that’s too bad because the album is dope. To be a good MC, you have to have the lyrical ability to constantly surprise, and you need quality production. But above all, you must have flow: There must be something about your delivery that’s unique, that makes people want to listen to you. Otherwise, rap is just words spat quick or slow. Ortiz, from Brooklyn, is a well-rounded guy, and it shows in his style. He scored 1400 on his SATs (or so he’s claimed), he was offered a basketball scholarship, and he has been signed by Dr. Dre to Aftermath (although I read a rumor recently that that deal has already gone south), and he’s recorded with Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap, so he’s starting to get heat. It’s time for you to catch the man whose been drawing comparisons to Big Pun (and, even better, not Fat Joe). He has plenty of street rhymes, like “Caught Up;” war stories like “Night In My P’s;” a shout-out cut (“Hip Hop”); and philosophizes politically on “Modern Day Slavery.” If that sounds like he’s trying to be all things to all people, there definitely is a little bit of a man-trying-to-find-his-voice feel to the album, but it’s a tight, solid release that shows tons of potential.
The real hot tracks here are the 125 grams songs. The cuts are the running theme of the Brick album.
I”m going to offer you a cut off of Brick, but a few other cuts, too, to show off his skills.
125 Part 4-Joell Ortiz (off Brick: The Bodega Chronicles)
Ups & Downs-Joell Ortiz. I copped this off of spine magazine. Great hook. Produced by Statik Selektah.
Warfare Joe Budden with Joell Ortiz. This track, produced by The Klasix, is off Joe Budden’s instant classic Mood Music 3.5. This year looks like the year we’ll finally get a second Joe B album. Of course, last year looked like that, too. And so did the year before that . . .
Ghetto-Big Noyd and Joell Ortiz. From Noyd’s upcoming album, Illustrious. I think Joell blows him out here.
It Could Be Anything-Lumidee with Jugganot & Joell Ortiz. I’m not a big Lumidee fan, but Scott Storch made a hot beat here, and Joell kills it.
In the Clip-Nino Bless Featuring Styles P, Kool G Rap, Joel Ortiz. A pass-the-mic mixtape track. The weakest cut up here, for sure, but Styles P and Joell have good verses.
Hip Hop (remix feat. jadakiss and saigon). If you just download one track, make it this one.