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Free Agent

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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.


Born: 06 July 1980 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

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

Brooklyn-born rapper Joell Ortiz, long one of the most critically acclaimed unsigned talents on the East Coast hip-hop scene, has gone a long way toward earning that reputation. A dedicated and accomplished student through his early years, and always a person to whom language came easily, Ortiz was an impressive rapper by his early teens. As he reached high school, family strife and his urban environment turned his attentions from his studies and rap career to street life and the drug trade. After...
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Free Agent, Joell Ortiz
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