Hype is a double-edged sword, with both sides controlling the ability to bubble an artist or sink him before the release date. Joell Ortiz has been the subject of countless comparisons to other Latino rappers during his come-up, but that doesnâ€™t bother Joell. His grind has been relentless, building connects across North America for more than a minute.
Finally releasing a retail album, with The Brick (Bodega Chronicles) , Ortiz does not disappoint. Staying true to the albums moniker, he touches on everything youâ€™d expect to see from the milk crate beside the stoop. Therein lies the problem with this effort – at the risk of betraying his loyalty to the culture, Ortiz comes across almost as a try-hard purist. He paints himself as so many strokes that it becomes difficult to take everything he says as legitimate.
Nevertheless, there is a rarely a dull moment on this LP. Banging beats, tactically placed features and superb lyricism guide the listener through a gloomy twilight of mischief and unadulterated reality. Possessing the rare ability to maintain a flow for inhuman timeframes, Mr. Ortiz is poised to bring at least a portion of the spotlight back on the East. Punish â€˜em, player.