Joell Ortiz Free Agent

Joell Ortiz Free Agent
Joell Ortiz, the Slaughterhouse MC, is doing pretty well ― the group just inked a deal with Shady Records and scored the cover of XXL ― but Ortiz, the solo artist, can't catch a break. After Jermaine Dupri broke a promise to sign him, and after being one of a handful of rappers released from Dr. Dre's Aftermath label without so much as a single, the Brooklyn, NY lyricist set up Free Agent with strong street-banger video "Project Boy." But, apparently, eOne got nervous about clearing the Flavor Flav sample that DJ Premier pasted into the hook, so the lead single is absent from Joell's long-awaited follow-up to 2007's The Brick. No matter. The Mediafire staple turns in one of the tightest NYC rap records in a minute. As always with the braggadocious rapper, punch lines are aplenty: "Battle Cry" consists of one five-minute verse of viciousness. "Head nod music, leave the dancin' over there" is the M.O., but that doesn't mean the Nuyorican can't select catchy beats (by New York giants like Just Blaze and Premo, and Canadian Frank Dukes) or drag the grimiest out of his fellow Big Apple street-spitters (the Lox, Fat Joe). Producer Novel's Al Green refresh, "Call Me (She Said)," on which Joell reminisces about a high school crush, is the closest thing to radio fodder, but mostly Ortiz is happy to write straightforward rap songs for the heads, such as Large Professor's "Oh!" The age-old formula of dope beats, plus clever rhymes works for a reason. (eOne)