H.A.R.D. – Self-Titled review

This is the brand new collaborative EP from Brooklyn & Long Beach veterans Joell Ortiz & KXNG CROOKED. Both of whom have had notorious label issues at the start of their careers, but would go on to see success as members of the supergroup Slaughterhouse along with Royce da 5’9” & Joe Budden from the late 2000s up until the mid-2010s. The quartet had quietly disbanded in 2016 after Joe’s retirement from making music, but it wasn’t confirmed until 2 years later. However after the 3 remaining members got back together on “I Will” off of Eminem’s latest album MUSIC TO BE MURDERƎD BY, Yaowa & Crook are teaming up on H.A.R.D. (Housing Authority Rap District).

The title track finds the duo talk about being humble for too long over a Heatmakerz instrumental with some beautiful background vocals whereas the next song “Get Ya Money” talks about how there’s 6,000,000 ways to make bread over a boom bap beat from Erick Sermon. The track “Caddy Bump (LBC)” is a Crook solo joint about growing up in the eastside with a ghostly instrumental from !llmind while the song “Catchin’ Bodies” sees the 2 getting back together for some vicious battle bars over a grand instrumental from Apollo Brown.

The track “Lose My Mind” talks about growing up where they come from over a lone acoustic instrumental while the song “Wolves (BRKLYN)” is a solo Joell joint where he totally airs someone out over bloodcurdling beat from the J.U.ST.I.C.E. League. The penultimate track “Lovely” talks about waking up to the same thing over a shadowy beat & then the EP finishes with “Memorial Day”, where Crook & Yaowa pay tribute to those who’ve passed away this year.

If this is the closest we’ll ever get to a new Slaughterhouse project then coming from someone who used to be a huge fan of the supergroup back in the day, then I’d be totally ok with it. The production is grimy as Hell & the chemistry between both MCs is fantastic as well. 

Score: 4/5

Joell Ortiz – “Monday” review

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Joell Ortiz is a 39 year old rapper who first gained recognition after being included in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source in 2004. He then signed to Aftermath Entertainment in 2006, who allowed him to release his debut album The Brick: Bodega Chronicles with E1 Music in the next year. Yaowa would eventually leave Aftermath in 2008 & form Slaughterhouse with Royce da 5’9”, KXNG CROOKED & Joe Budden shortly after. The supergroup rose to prominence with their self-titled debut that just celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary this year & would go on to sign with Eminem’s Interscope Records imprint Shady Records in 2011. But sadly, their major label debut welcome to: OUR HOUSE in the summer of 2012 would unfortunately end up being their last. Joell has been focusing on his solo career ever since then & not even a year after his Apollo Brown produced Mona Lisa, he’s hitting fans with his 7th full-length album.

After the titular intro, we go into the first song “Captain”. Where Joell talks about his place in hip hop over a stylistic Heatmakerz beat. The track “Sip Slow” is filled with clever battle bars over a joyous boom bap beat from Apollo Brown while the song “Champion” declares himself as just that over a tribal instrumental from Nottz. The track “Anxiety” vents about his insecurities over a soulful acoustic instrumental while the song “Same Time” talks about hearing a lot all at once over a boom bap beat with some strings.

The song “Learn You” talks about the sacrifices he made to chase his dreams over a grand Big K.R.I.T. instrumental then the track “Screens” talks about his kids & reflecting on his own childhood over a colorful instrumental. The song “Jamaican Food” is a lust anthem with a sweet minimalist beat while the track “Before Hip Hop” talks about his life before making music over some bongos & soulful background vocals. The penultimate track “Momma” of course pays tribute to Yaowa’s mother over an piano that suits the vibe & then the album ends with “Grammy”, where Joell talks about doing him over a boom bap beat with some more beautiful keyboard passages.

This is easily one of Yaowa’s best releases to date. The production is sweet to the ear & the lyrics are some of his most personal yet.

Score: 4/5

Joell Ortiz – “Mona Lisa” review

Joell Ortiz is a 38 year old rapper from Brooklyn, New York who rose to prominence after being featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source in 2004. He then signed to Aftermath Entertainment in 2006 & they allowed him to release his debut album The Brick: Bodega Chronicles with E1 Music in the next year. Then in 2008, he left Aftermath & formed Slaughterhouse with Royce da 5’9”, KXNG CROOKED & Joe Budden. They saw a lot of success together with their self-titled debut the next year, landing a contract with Eminem’s Interscope Records imprint Shady Records in 2011 (the same year Joell put out his sophomore album Free Agent. However, the supergroup’s only album on the label welcome to: OUR HOUSE in the following year would unfortunately end up being their last. He’s been focusing on his solo career ever since then & now for his 6th full-length album, he has enlisted Detroit’s very own Apollo Brown to produce it in it’s entirety.

After the “Brushstrokes” intro, we go into the first song “Reflection”. Here, Yaowa putting his 2 cents in on the demise of Slaughterhouse over a mellow beat with some strings. The track “‘My Block” is a vivid tribute to the Cooper Park Houses over a soulful beat while the song “Cocaine Fingertips” is filled with hilarious battle bars over a settle bass-line. The track “Grace of God” is about making it out of the projects with an orchestral boom bap beat while the song “That Place” recalls a friend of his being shot over a somber beat.

The track “Word…” talks about his main squeeze over some bass guitar while the song ““Decisions” contemplates whether to keep rapping or selling cocaine over a gloomy instrumental. The track “Timberlan’d Up” sees Joell linking up with Royce to talk about fighting people over a gritty boom bap beat but if you were a huge Slaughterhouse fan like I was, then you’ll definitely like the remix with KXNG CROOKED a lot more. The penultimate track “Come Back Home” reflects on the good times in his block over a soulful boom bap beat & then the titular song is a 3 minute epic that finishes the album.

As expected, this is Joell’s best work yet. His lyricism is sharper over time & the organic Apollo Brown production suits his stories near perfectly. If you wanna hear an underrated vet at his most mature moments, then give this a listen.

Score: 4.5/5

Slaughterhouse – “welcome to: OUR HOUSE”’ review


After signing to Shady Records & Interscope just a year prior, Slaughterhouse is finally releasing their long-awaited sophomore album/major label debut. The album officially starts off with a 76 second skit where they tell you that there’s no fake MCs aloud, but then things don’t officially start popping until the first song “Our House”. Here, the supergroup teams up with Shady founder Eminem to talk about their desires of being the greatest to ever do it over an ominous instrumental, but my only complaint about this song is that the Skylar Grey hook is absolutely God awful. The next track “Coffin” aggressively spits about murdering wack MCs over a chaotic instrumental from Hit-Boy & the Busta Rhymes hook is so energetic, that it actually makes me sad that he doesn’t have a verse on here. The song “Throw That” is conceptually about flirting with strippers, but the Eminem hook is meh & the beat is just average at best. The track “Hammer Dance” contains more murderous bars & the araabMUZIK instrumental has this unexpected KoЯn sample in it, but it was simultaneously really cool. The song “Get Up” has an motivational tone to it lyrically & the rap rock production from No I.D. is pretty catchy as well. The track “My Life” sees the 4 MCs bragging about fame over an radio friendly instrumental & the Cee-Lo Green hook was average at best. The song “Flip a Bird” talks about selling drugs, but the vocal sample that you’ll hear during each verse & the hook kinda gets annoying after a while. The track “Throw It Away” is a decent club anthem with a hard hitting beat from D12 member mR. pOrTeR & to be quite honest, the Swizz Beatz hook on here actually doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The song “Rescue Me” vents about each member trying to get it together & the beat on here is ok, but the Skylar Grey hook on here is as equally terrible as the one on “Our House”. The track “Frat House” is another club banger, except this one is pretty bad. However, the way Joe Budden & Joell Ortiz go back & forth during the final verse wasn’t too bad except for the lyrics. The song “Goodbye” sees everyone minus Royce da 5’9” rapping about Joe’s girl having a miscarriage along with the deaths of Crooked I’s grandfather & Joell’s grandmother over a sugary instrumental from Boi-1da. While it is sincerely delivered, the hook is painfully corny. The track “Park It Sideways” is a comedic jab at all of the wack MCs out there, but the beat really sounds like it could’ve been on a Lil Wayne album. The song “Die” rapidly goes in about popping a cap in your ass & the beat from mR. pOrTeR on here is a lot more hard hitting than the other song he did. The standard edition closer “Our Way” talks about making it which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the instrumental on here is very bland. The first bonus track “Asylum” has a serial killer vibe to it lyrically & as for Eminem’s production, there’s not a whole lot to it during the drums throughout & the guitar that comes in solely during the hook. The next bonus track “Walk of Shame” talks about 4 separate 1-night stands between each member, but the beat is super nondescript & the auto-tuned hook from Royce is super cringey. “The Other Side” is basically everyone minus Crooked insightfully talking about being human despite fame along with a gold digger & not being perfect over uplifting instrumental from the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League & the final bonus track “Place to Be” sees the supergroup hooks up with B.o.B to talk about being somewhere far away from the bullshit over an awkward club instrumental, but the way everyone got together for the last verse was very creative. There are a few highlights on here & as much as I love Slaughterhouse, this was disappointing. The lyrics are decent, but it sounded way more commercial than it should’ve from the production to the hooks. I get trying to make a commercial album, but the whole pop rap sound doesn’t fit Slaughterhouse’s style at all. Just take a couple joints & stick with the prelude mixtape On the House

Score: 2/5

Slaughterhouse – Self-titled EP review

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Over a year & a half has passed after the release of their fantastic self-titled debut album & with the announcement of them signing to Shady Records & Interscope just a month prior, Slaughterhouse is releasing another self-titled project albeit it’s their 1st EP. The EP opens with “Back on the Scene”, where the supergroup talks about their triumphant return over an abrasive rap rock instrumental from M-Phazes. The next song “Sun Doobie” sees them getting hardcore on wack rappers over a piano boom bap beat from D12 member mR. pOrTeR. The track “Everybody Down” has a hard hitting beat from Black Milk & if you couldn’t tell by the title, the supergroup aggressively spits about sticking you up. The next song is actually a remix of “Put Some Money on It” off of Joell Ortiz’s sophomore album Free Agent & honestly, I think the additional verses make it even better. The penultimate track is a remix of “Fight Club”, which was the bonus track off their self-titled album. However, I think this new instrumental (from the same dude who produced the original oddly enough) fits the supergroup’s confrontational bars a lot more than the original. The EP closes out with “Move On”, where everyone tells the listeners to let go of a significant moment in each member’s past over some somber set of pianos & the hook is pretty catchy as well. Overall, this was almost as great as their self-titled album was. The production & verses are as equally hardcore, but I feel like the 2 remixes should’ve been released prior to this

Score: 3.5/5

Slaughterhouse – “House Rules” review

Almost 2 years after their excessively commercial sounding sophomore album welcome to: OUR HOUSE, Slaughterhouse is returning with their 2nd mixtape to promote their upcoming 3rd album Glass House. The self-titled track (which kicks the tape off) has no specific topic as said by Royce da 5’9” midway through his verse, but everyone sounds happy to be together again & the instrumental has this uplifting atmosphere to it. The next track “SayDatThen” is basically about speaking your mind over an hardcore boom bap instrumental from Nottz & I absolutely love the story that Joe Budden tells during his verse of the track. The !llmind interlude is actually KXNG CROOKED & Joell Ortiz respectively rapping 2 long verses over a nice organ loop provided by the song’s producer !llmind. The next track “Trade It All” is a Joe Budden solo cut & you can just tell that he was channeling everything into the 3 insightful verses he delivers over a wailing guitar. The next song “Keep It 100” is a Royce solo cut & while the creepy vocal sample hanging in the background is decent, Royce’s bars about honesty are just as sincere as the last song was. The track “Offshore” may be almost 10 minutes long, but all 4 members individually vent about shit they’ve been thinking about fantastically & the orchestral sounding instrumental sounds very rich & organic. The CROOKED solo cut “Struggle” sees him reflecting on the days when he was living rough & the eerie instrumental enhances the vivid storytelling. The Joell Ortiz solo cut “Life in the City” has a cool rap rock instrumental from The Heatmakerz & Yaowa’s confrontational bars fit the sound like a glove. The penultimate track “I Ain’t Bullshittin’” doesn’t have Budden on it at all, but that doesn’t stop the other 3 MCs from delivering abrasive verses about haters over a decent instrumental from araabMUZIK. The tape closes out with “I Don’t Know”, where everyone minus CROOKED spits about the streets over a gritty beat from Harry Fraud. While I don’t think we’re ever gonna get Glass House at this point, I find this to be the supergroup’s best release since their self-titled EP back in 2011. Primarily because Slaughterhouse returns to their hardcore roots after the pop rap sound that was all over welcome to: OUR HOUSE didn’t suit them at all. I also found the 4 solo tracks from each member was a great way to introduce themselves to anyone who’s hearing them for the first time. So if Shady Records DOES end up releasing Glass House, THIS is how it should sound

Score: 3.5/5