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Free Agent

Joell Ortiz

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Album Review

Just like the self-titled, 2011 EP from his crew Slaughterhouse, Free Agent is a contractual obligation release, freeing gifted rapper Joell Ortiz from his eOne contract, but this time, as a solo artist. The similarities don’t stop there as the EP and Joell’s effort share the furious highlight “Put Some Money on It,” plus they both pack a punch you wouldn’t expect from such releases. In the case of Free Agent, it’s a knock-out. Hip-hop heads get to revel in Ortiz’s insider story as he goes through his legal deals with Aftermath recordings and Dr. Dre, but the subject matter doesn’t dominate the album, which sounds more like dispatches from the heart of a champion than mere industry bitching and gossip. Think Fat Joe if he could kick karate, and you’re close to the sound of the mighty “Sing Like Bilal,” and if you want stately and majestic, “Battle Cry” is the hip-hop entry theme on which you’ve been waiting. Throughout the album, Ortiz drops punch lines that are wicked, stories that are detailed, and hooks that are solid. Some might complain they’ve heard the best bits on earlier mixtapes, but Free Agent is an excellent way for the less fussy fan to get all these heaters in one shot.

Biography

Born: 06 July 1980 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A Puerto Rican rapper from Brooklyn who built a buzz with his series of rhyme marathons entitled 125 Grams, Joell Ortiz eventually signed with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label and released his debut full-length on Koch in 2007. Turning down an academic and athletic scholarship to look after his mother in Brooklyn, Ortiz earned initial attention with his no-frills attitude and rhyming prowess, being featured in critical polls in XXL and The Source magazines. Although an opportunity to sign with Jermaine...
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Free Agent, Joell Ortiz
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