Joell Ortiz The Brick (Bodega Chronicles)

Joell Ortiz has all the tools to be an outstanding MC; he has an engaging presence, commanding flow, clever lyricism and potent storytelling skills. Add to that the fact that he’s obviously smart enough to have studied past NYC microphone masters while being conscious that he has to bring a little of his own flavour to the table and Ortiz’s future as an emerging East coast MC looks very bright. All of the above is confirmed on The Brick (Bodega Chronicles), which showcases Ortiz’s versatility. The freestyle feel of parts one through four of "125” contain the type of witty and relentless lyrics that beg to be rewound. He convincingly relays his struggles on "Caught Up” and gets all misty-eyed on "Hip Hop.” While the second half of the album features guest appearances from everyone from underground rebel rhymer Immortal Technique to chart-topping ass-smacker Akon, it quickly becomes clear he doesn’t need any of them. It’s also apparent that Ortiz’s sonic backdrop doesn’t always match the quality or intensity of his lyricism. Ortiz’s recent signing to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label will most likely rectify this chink in his armour. (Koch) (Koch)