Joell Ortiz - Free Agent

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"For the second time in as many albums, Joell Ortiz did everything skeptics claim that New York emcees no longer do."

Among their many lessons, all disciples of Gang Starr know that Brooklyn is the Planet. In a lineage that includes Big Daddy Kane, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, the greatest planetary tour-guide of late has been Cooper Park Housing Projects' Joell Ortiz. With telescopic lyrics, Ortiz is an every-man that can easily call back to childhood nostalgia, recreate bodega banter and never veers far from his curb-servin' past as a fully-developed character on the mic. Nothing that the man says appears glamorized or fabricated, and as his Slaughterhouse track record shows, the decade-plus veteran can absolutely obliterate a track with unique flows and dynamic deliveries. Like its title suggests, Free Agent is a farewell to best-kept-secret status and a transition to a championship bid.

Whereas 2007's stellar debut Brick: Bodega Chronicles was more sparse beats and rhymes, Free Agent is bigger and louder. "Battle Cry" lives up to its name, as the emcee ranks himself in today's class, and justifies why he's one of the greatest. If Just Blaze provided Ghostface with the Goliath anthem in 2006's "The Champ," this is David music, with screaming vocals and a melee of guitars (co-produced by Audible Doctor). It's not as much about Hip Hop as Joell joins Fat Joe on "Killed For Less" . Here, the pair go back to the goonery, in a cinematic New York nightmare akin that blends Clockers with Fort Apache, The Bronx. The '00s-era emcee brings Joey back to his greatest abilities in one of Free Agent's richest moments.

In the last four years, Joell has successfully made music for beyond the block. "Call Me," with fellow Rawkus alum Novel is the kind of R&B/Rap collaborations that lived on Ron G. blend-tapes. With Al Green in a chop-shop, Ortiz revisits the innocence of first loves that resonates with anybody. He looks back with honest eyes and a teenager's perspective that makes the moment realer. The storytelling is complete with on-the-mic chuckles and "check" before verses that clearly demonstrate this is an rapper that's upholding New York's rich traditions of mastering the ceremony. Circulated widely and also released (as an alternate version) on Year Round Records...Get Used To Us, "Sing Like Bilal" is a sharp collaboration with DJ Premier. Ortiz takes a beat originally intended for the Neo-Soul artist in its title, and brands it as his own. It's a lyrical workout, and Joell gets his P90X on, requiring no fancy equipment to show that he's in shape. As much new ground or against-the-grain approaches as Free Agent has, it's not without triteness. "Cocaine" is a dedication to the powder that provided income to emcee in his former life, and while the second-person narrative is unusual, this is a concept found on numerous albums year-after-year. Still, a few predictable moments and an abundance of skits don't steal much from the magic Joell makes with this album. Ortiz has clearly earned his place in the conversation as one of Brooklyn's finest.

For the second time in as many albums, Joell Ortiz did everything skeptics claim that New York emcees no longer do. Free Agent celebrates the finer moments of an urban childhood, as well as the constant threat of danger. The album restores hard lyrics and beats from Premo and Large Professor, but still successfully executes R&B hooks and altered vocals in other places. After years of paying dues and building crews, it is Joell Ortiz that keeps "the Planet" in orbit.

Purchase Free Agent by Joell Ortiz.


  • ....

    A dope album, it's a solid 4/5. It's good to see Joell overrated for once though

  • Anonymous

    no magazines top ten cos m -ve one

  • Anonymous

    Lyrics are very good... the beats alright.. Joell's flow and delivery has gone from great in 2009 to annoying. Subject matter is whatever.. Definatly not a 9/10 more like 7/10.

    • Bob Saget

      agreed. sht isn't top 25 of 2011 for goddamn sure. his voice is annoying. cool lyrics but what is he really talking about?

  • Ainslie Leonard

    Joell is a fraud who wasted all his best verses what... four years ago? Forget about Dre, get your fucking GRE and move on. Show business isn't for everyone.

  • Chris Revalation Figueroa

    Great album, good beats, concepts and lyricism...sad albums like this don't get the light they truly deserve anymore

  • Tom Kinnebrew

    Nobody's fuckin with "Battle Cry." Song of 2010 in my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    this shit is fire

  • quibble

    Initially I thought it was just good. But album grew on me the more I listened to it due to his lyrical prowess. 4.5.

  • Millahtyme

    Another classic for Joell. NYC complains about not being relevant anymore, but doesn't celebrate it's strongest newcomer to the game. What gives? My rating 5/5!

  • huffy

    I really like joell on every track he does solo or slaughterhouse that battle cry is straight crazyi liked his first album too but....... i just cant feel this album not what i was expecting at all maybe i need to listen to it 20x to like it i dont know

  • Devante Introspective-Dialect Bennett

    Wow I need my eyes checked... I thought it said on top 58 people have voted 59 people gave this a perfect 5 ------------------ But it was 39... Not really interesting... just something that should put a smirk on your faces... ------------------ and here comes the gay jokes

  • darius

    1.Intro 8.5/10 2.Put Some Money On It 8.5/10 3.Killed For Less - 4.One Shot (Killed For Less) 7.5/10 5.Sing Like Bilal 9/10 6.Finish What You Start 7/10 7.Battle Cry 10+/10 8.Nursery Rhyme 6.5/10 (straight wack) 9.Phone - 10.Call Me (She Said) 10/10 11.So Hard 7.5/10 12.Oh! 8/10 13.Checkin For You - 14.Checkin For You 5/10 (fuck this) 15.Good Man Is Gone 8.5/10 16.Cocaine 10/10 17.Incredible 8/10 Rating 8.1/10

    • EZS

      Jday, a 5/10 is a 50%. I'm not sure what the grading scales were like when you were in school but these days thats a solid fail. A 65 is a D. To get a 1/10 he litterally would have to play a horrible beat and just b*tches on repeat the entire track, and hell that'd still probably get a 2/10.

    • jday

      hahaha I like how "fuck this" and "straight wack" are 5 and 6.5... fairly high given your brief descriptions. what would he have to do to get a 1? and what would you put in parenthesis next to it?

  • Larry Lane Jr

    Joell Ortiz is one of the most slept on artists out. to me he is one of the lyricists out i know this alum is going to get slept on. Hip-Hop just isn't the same anymore like in the 90's. Nowadays everybody seems to rap the same or alot of producers have the same style. But this is a good album i especially like the joint he did with fat joe.

  • Jay Gonzalez

    i had bought this cd at best buy and damn is this album sick! joell ortiz is a real nasty lyricist... especially if u listen to em closely n kno what he be talkin bout, u be like damn! he has a unique flow... 5/5.

  • NJ

    Descent album but 4.5? No, 4 at best.

  • jskeeo

    albums pretty dope...i never understood how one could hate joell tho animal on the mic and sincere



  • Jake

    Solid album, by one of the doper lyricists in the 2011 game (in my top 20 raw dudes spitting TODAY, but not my top 10 as I prefer dudes like Elzhi, Tonedeff, Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought, Diabolic, Crooked I, Louis Logic, Kool G Rap, Nas, & Royce USUALLY, Juice, over him to name few)... Would of been better if Koch didn't cut another PRIMO joint (Project Boy) due to sampling. Battle Cry is fire for sure

  • Bigstack

    I think the album is great, but I like saigon's and rae's better then this! I hope the real heads gonna support all of them!

  • DON

    This album is a big let down...I like Joell ALOT and this album didnt nearly live up to the hype at all...Nursery Rhyme is the best joint on there...other than that VERY MEDIOCRE !!!!!!

  • Justin Justmoney Bowns

    dope shit


    Joells 2nd classic yyyaaawwwwahhhhh...

  • ErikThaRed

    This album is the best album in a long time...period. That Premo beat on Sing Like Bilal is hip hop to the bone. Insane album...been waiting for something like this for a long time.

  • rathegenius

    corny dudes rating this album with corny names. its simple people this is a 5 star album. a classic. your fav. rappers rappers rapper bump this shit and will in the future. lyrics, concept, flow, delivery, originally, diverse, and catchy is what this album defines. again real hiphop heads and real lyricism always gets under looked. and for the corny corny corny corny dudes rating and taking cyber shit, get a life and off a comp and off this site #Please. for those who question me , well i say this i been a joell fan since cooper pjs. since the ea nba live debut. joell knows who his real fans are. cop the album. support the artist. and continue the movement. # yaowaarmy.

  • rathegenius

    so i left my comments days ago, and people on here taking my concept. rewriting joell lyrics etc. um if you really a joell fan fine a way to have your own concept on rating this album. taking my concept is like having the cover to the album with a burnt cd. come on people. original. original. joell wouldnt be proud. smh .

    • Bigstack

      Omg, are you serious?!? "Joell wouldn't be proud" lol i hope you're jokin...or did you invited it? Just enjoy the album and the love Joell gets from his fans... He wouldn't be proud of your self-conceit... Ps: album's dope!

  • Radio

    Joell is pure genius. The entire album is fire. That Nursery Rhyme track amazes me every time I listen to it. Slaughterhouse is hip-hop at its finest. Not as good as his first but definitely gonna bump this.

  • Pablo Escobar

    I'd advise everyone to listen to this album at least 5 times before giving it a final rating. You just have to let it sink deep into your mental...Indeed, I was also seriously rejecting HHDX's rating when I first saw it. However, with more hindsight, nobody can truly say that Joell's verses are anything less than witty, relevant, and lyrically proficient! Nothing truly incredible on here I understand but the dude's wordplay is hard as hell. HOOKS are near perfect. Ill samples. Several Hip-Hop quotables plus his references are hilarious even if a couple of them were kind of typical, blase hahahaha. Reminds me of G Rap with his multi-syllabic rhyming and strictly *old-school* Fat Joe with his bravado. At the very least there are 5 CLASSICS (Nursery Rhyme, OH!, Sing like Bilal, One Shot: Killed for Less, and Battle Cry) and for the most part, Production is Killer (Large Pro, Premier, Just Blaze, Knobody) 4 Stars "See I really hustle homie, this aint no fabrication, they never called me back, filled out many applications, watching these corny niggas come up that was aggravating, so I hit the corner told 'em beat it like they're masturbating" "But none of them is hot not the flicker of a lighter, I'm about to blow up in they face Richard Pryor, your industry buzz ain't valid on the streets loser, We don't care about them mags and them weak rumors, your secret wack parties with free hookah, Everybody walkin round trying to be cooler, Nah! See I be where they keep rugers" "Before I saw gwap from Joell features, I had the corner on lock Darrelle Revis"

  • Greg Hunter Jr.

    OFMG!!! Joell is a Beast. A real classic. Slaughterhouseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

  • Duzzinahhh

    yea, this is CLASSIC. Joell is definatly in line up for the next Vet. Dudes showin growth and killin it. Hip Hop baby...

  • Anonymous

    so Sebastion Rios is really just Joell changing up his voice, right? i hate that song BTW.

  • Jonel 'Shaq Deisel' Howard

    I haven't listened to it yet but from this review and the comments so far it'll be another great Ortiz joint to ride to.

  • Chris Newberry

    Dope ass album, cop 3! 2011 is gonna be a very good year!

  • G

    As most, I was kind of disappointed. I'm feelin most of the album, but it's not Joell's best work and there's nobody to blame but the fucking label. Fuck E1. The production is decent and the album didn't seem well put together like his first album. Nevertheless, I can def still bump this. It's still Joell and he kills everything. Nursery Rhymes is an incredible track. He really goes in. I wouldn't give this a 4.5, more like a 3.5. Saigon deserves the 4.5 in my opinion. But don't let this album pass by you, Joell still goes hard on it. It should hold me off until a Slaughterhouse album. I'll give it a 4 because there's no 3.5's and its better than a 3. SLAUGHTERHOUSE!

  • Callum Earnshaw

    this shit is raw

  • nate the big black snake

    classic, i sincerely belive joell deserves it

  • Andre

    Its funny people rate the album, talk a lot a shit, "the album is hot, this album this album that" but dont buy.

  • Vencire Damones

    4.5 for a slight-above average album is completely stupid! This lp was a many delays for this? 'Call me','Battle cry','Sing like..' 'Good man is gone' - only good tracks, overall mediocre release from a good rapper Joell's solo material just isn't his best work in my opinion the previous album was the same thing! hopefully that SH album fire!!

  • kyegee

    Excellent - Far better than Slaughterhouse EP (that was a let down..) Can't get enuf of finish what u start..

  • Charles Benévolo Singletary

    Dope album. Refreshing.

  • RoCa

    Joel iz the shyt .. Free Agent iz Banging... Catz feeing it from every angel.. ..#1 Fan from Africa....

  • r2die

    man i bought this album over 3 weeks ago.. why is it just getting posted on new releases? yeah i aint feeling a handful of beats on this album either.. but other than that its hot!

  • Anonymous

    not feeling a handful of beats on here. Frequency is trash.

  • Anonymous


  • rainbowbuckets

    how old are you u must be crazy

  • Kenneth Thomas

    This alum is amazing.

  • Angel De Peña

    Slaughterhouse > Wu-Tang

    • Anonymous

      cosign Slaughterhouse > WU-Tang

    • Rick

      hahaha you must be 16 or so....go stand in the corner! And next time before posting have your homework done lil boy

    • superhova

      Nate, look at the kid. He clearly doesnt even have hair on his balls yet. Cant take their comments seriously.

    • Nate

      Seriously? You're a fucking retard. Slaughterhouse has one disc... one! Wu-tang and it's members have classics on top of classics. Slaughterhouse is nowhere near Wu-tang, not even the same league. People like you piss me off. If your going to make a statement like that know what you're fucking talking about before you post something as ridiculous as that.

  • rooney

    Damn. Thank you Joell. Imma be bumpin' this shit for some time. Classic Joell in 10?

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I've already had this album for months haha.. Shit is sick..

  • Anonymous

    hell no you got killah priest and hell razah and then the main group dont talk shit their all dope.

  • DMAX

    alright if your gonna talk about the best in wu tang it has to be killa sin I know his an affiliate but go on youtube on type in killarmy and look for the last verse he rapes that beat like a muthafucka

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    oh shit typo meant to say hip has never been dead

  • Anonymous

    HIP HOP was never been dead it just went underground really really underground so underground...............

  • rathegenius

    nursery rhyme- crazy. he takes your kids favorite nursery rhymes and turns it into his own. showing off he is lol. soft nursery rhymes turned into songs of nightmare. claim your fame, claim your fucking fame joell. i hope these media people see these comments. if new york rap and hip hop were to be a robot, joell be the fucking arms and hands conrtol by the mind of biggie and influence by the big body of biggie and grimey face of 50 and the legs of jay to the back of jada and the "swag" of fab and the hungryness and dedication of diddy. joell is the secret angry strength of ny. get em ortiz get em i said !

  • rathegenius

    " ya getting away with murder like the white bronco" - battle cry that verse pass soooooooooooo many minds i gaurentee it. so many people must of been like wtf he talking bout. joell is right. too many artist and a&rs and labels are getting away with murder with these gay ass fucking music and artist they putting out. getting away with murder like the white bronco ... wow yes joell they are just like OJ. for those dumb listeners lost he talking about oj simpson and his white bronco he drove during super bowl game on highway getting away with murder. literally. - yaowa!

  • rathegenius

    "see i really hustled homie, this aint no fabrication they nevered called me back i filled out many applications watching these corny niggas come up that was aggravating so i hit the corner and told em beat it like they masturbating i try to have the patience i ask god for the answers he took too long to respond so i had a chat with satin he told me my dreams aint have to stay imagination he turned my wreck timbs to a stretch benz for my graduation" seriously disect those bars and you see what im talking about. like wdf is wrong with hiphop. this verse is crazy crazy crazy. the whole god and satin verse ...... enough said!

  • rathegenius

    WoW ! i been a yaowa soldier and a ortiz fan since his days in bk. before the mixtape that made joell. it was love at first rap. the delivery and THE LYRICS he vocalized caught my mind and soul. with this album it will showcase the talent and the charisma that a mc name joell ortiz has. this album will someday be recognized as a secret class for those wanting to be and improve the art of an mc. from switching flows to being the honest tough guy he is. no i dont want to sound like a crazy fan but this is a legend. i am more than a fan i am a listener to the one of witty, talented, focused, humbled, creative, genius Latino who is caged in the world of never impressing hiphop and lost mc rhymers. if biggie were alive, he'd be on a rampage to let people know that this man can hold it down with anyone and unique talent that wont be seen ever again.

  • Joey Palack

    i like this guy but his voice always gets on my nerves.

  • Ben P

    Great review! The only thing that pisses me off is E-1's CD distribution, I have to wait until next week to get it in the mail. Good thing he's out

  • Jesse C May

    At least you rhymin, Joell.

  • Anonymous

    am I the only one that thinks Joell sold out? like whats up with these wack ass Young Money punchlines. Lol like in Brick Bodega Chronicles, there was none of that shit. Just straight fire. Here there's a hint of "gimmick" on every song (except Battle Cry)

    • RAW

      I feel you son. I been fucking with Joell since Who The Fuck Is Joell Ortiz and he has switched up his style. I would say he sold out but i feel like hes trying to fit in with those punchlines and when he be switching his voice up. Im still a Joell fan but theres not one track on Free Agent that can fuck with Brooklyn Bullshit.

    • Anonymous

      IT'S "YOU'RE" AS IN "YOU ARE".

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, your the only one

  • jskeelo

    id give this 4 stars....if some of the other tracks samples were cleared such as project boy, night train, and so wrong..thenn it would be 4.5-5 stars...saigon got the best album this year tho so far

  • uhh wtf

    Yea if this is 4 and half stars Saigon's album is Orion's belt

  • MPistol

    10% of hip-hop is worth my time..... already knew part of that included this man......

  • Ruby

    Just listened to the whole thing, and thought it was SICK. Joell's lyrics are on another level. Production is good and the features are also good. Just ordered the CD on Amazon. SLAUGHTERHOUSE! Support this real music, hopefully we hit 100K!

  • RM

    Joell is one of NICEST MC's to drop in a LOOOOOOOOONG time! If only Blu could replace Crooked I on Slaughterhouse they'd be unfuckwitable! Blu & Joell are some of the few who can rock to any beat! J.O reminds me of BDK mixed with G Rap!

    • Rick

      MMG- I hear you but I think they'd mesh well. Blu can spit hard! as for you anonymous dude. please shut the fuck up! Its call an opinion faggot....but you are a thats a FACT!


      Slaughterhouse is fine just the way it is and Blu wouldnt fit slaughterhouse and Crooked I is not the best one

    • fucku

      Your an idiot. Crooked id the only good member of slaughterhouse

  • poiloiio

    This NO Where NEAR Saigon shit.... WTF is up with hip hop dx

  • Anonymous


  • EddieMurrrphy

    just copped the cd. we are able to finally, thank god. dope really like this shit more cohesive than the first official offering back in 07. i hate that call me track. that turned me off to this project when that shit came out last year. but every other track is def. listenable. really nothing but positive shit to say about this thumbs up ortiz, and lets see an album under your control drop this year too! ps i thought i liked that battle cry version on farewell summer better when i first heard the one on this album. but this one has the edge for sure. the just blaze audible right after ortiz spits that bar about solar makes it better. "faggot" - awesome

  • Mike Meraz

    "Battle Cry" "Call Me" "OH" "Good Man Is Gone" "Cocaine" ...Are some classic tracks. Great songs. But besides that I wasn't really feeling any other tracks..That's just me. 3/5

  • Sean Cody Mahoney


  • i buy ym$ albums

    as nice as dude is lets face it "slaughterhouse fans"... they will always sell 6k to 10k records because you internet PUNKS dont support your artist!! and no im not a fan i just think he is "nice".. the artist i support and spend money on are all doing fine on billboards.. my point?? support and buy your favorite artist's musik!! they dont do this to have an argument about who is better they do it for $$$$$$$$

    • anon

      Its called marketing buddy... the people buying albums ARE internet punks, with their hands in their parents pockets. Its very possible for artists to make money without too bad most of the music industry haven't figured it out yet.

  • Shaun Fessler

    albums dope.. but saigons was better like alot here said.


    This album started off great and ran out of steam towards the end. This guy has a very high lyrical ceiling. SLAUGHTER HOUSE!!!

    • Mike Meraz

      lol wtf? c'mon dude I think you mean the other way around. The album started off weak sounding like another mixtape, then started getting good.

  • HipHop

    Good but I liked Bodega Chronicles much more.

  • Anonymous

    i disagree with the fact that this album deserves a 4 1/2 and saigon deserves a 4. not dissin but this is lacking a concept and production, but the lyrics definetly are ill.

  • Raymond Atlas

    Love it.....still banging it months later

  • sincerejk

    very dope album. definitely don't think it deserves a better rating than saigon's though

  • Charles ExSavior

    8.5/10 for me, but this definitely deserves 5 stars the way this site will rate a cornball over a real emcee.

    • poppin automatics is a faggot

      Poppin automatics is a definite faggot. Any man who says dik sukin lips bout another man is 100 percent homosexual and also a perverted creep. He should change his name to faggot automatic. Burn in hell faggot automatic. Faggot automatic's father stuffed dick down his throat and gave him a facial whe he was 5 thats why his gay ass is bitter about life. Poppin automatic is a ugly bitter piece of shit.

    • Poppin Automatics

      i still see them big dick suckin lips

  • Anonymous

    joell's been nice on the mic for so long, his just getting props now

  • pienman

    the homie waking em' if they sleep! dude is nice... SLAUGTHERHOUSE

  • Nico 3

    But alas, it will probably struggle to sell 50,000 copies total. Lyrical ability or not, you need for everything to be in place. Signing with Shady is a good start, but he needs for the MTV/BET teen set to embrace him before any of this really matters.

  • E1 Sucks

    Great album, Joell never disappoints 5/5

  • Anonymous

    Yeah it's about time he said fuck it, let's get it...

  • Wayne

    Good review. Lyrically this is the best album I've heard in quite a while. Some of the beats leave a bit to be desired yet I think. I have my fingers crossed that through his slaughterhouse connection with Royce we will get some Joell solo tracks w/ Black Milk.

    • rick

      Black Milk is nice but i just recently heard Apollo Browns production and WOW!!!! That is all!!! Dude is from Detroit too....Whats with Detroit nowadays??! Thats where the REAL Hip Hop Located too man! for real! I have not heard one wack MC or producer from Detroit.

    • Anonymous

      black milk=kanye before kanye realized he was kanye. lol

    • Anonymous

      For sure black milk is a monster of a producer.

  • Basim Thedream

    This album is hot.