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 a short time, however, Ortiz turned his attentions back to his life-giving pursuit of excellence in his music. Thanks to his natural talent and serious work ethics, opportunity soon found Ortiz, and he began to gain recognition. An appearance in The Source magazine and winning Chairman's Choice from XXL magazine earned Ortiz credibility and buzz that resulted in his appearance on the NBA Live 2005 soundtrack. Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label offered Ortiz a contract that year, a deal which quickly went sour, creating bad blood between Ortiz and one of the industry's most powerful players. Since that time, Ortiz continued to record and write actively, collaborating with artists like KRS-One and Kool G Rap. He is also an emcee with Slaughterhouse and is the founder of Roseville Music Group. His best-known albums include Brock: Bodega Chronicles from 2008, 2010's Free Agent, and 2014's House Slippers.
Two tracks on the latter featured collaborations with New Jersey producer !llmind. In early 2015, the pair teamed for the album Human, with guests Emilio Rojas, Bodega Bamz, Chris Rivers, and Father Dude. The full-length was released in July. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez