My #19 Favourite Album of 2014: Joell Ortiz – House Slippers

After spending the past couple years putting in work with Slaughterhouse, Joell has returned with a follow-up to his 2011 solo album, Free Agent.  While Joell likes to go off with his braggadocios freestyle raps with Slaughterhouse or on his mixtapes, he tends to use his solo albums to be a little more introspective, and this is even more true with House Slippers.  Like the title suggests, this album sounds like you’re just kicking it with Joell in a laid-back setting, as he raps about how his life and career has been going over these past few years.  For the first few songs he covers things like his time being signed to Shady Records, his giving up of alcohol, and his highly publicized weight loss.

While the introspective side to Joell’s music is good to hear, he does give some variety on this album, and it doesn’t stay laid-back the entire time.  Things get intense when Slaughterhouse makes their guest appearance on “Brother’s Keeper”, and then Joell shows off his rhyming skills on “Q & A”.  It feels like we’ve gone from Joell’s living room to his basement, and he kept his house slippers on to bring us out back to his barbeque on “Get Down”.  The last quarter of the album features Joell rapping about family and relationships, with an especially deep song about the pain from looking through your partner’s phone.  The album ends with a stereotypical drug-dealer song called “Crack Spot”.

Overall, Joell proves to still be one of the great underground emcees.  He shows growth by using his talent to touch on a wide range of topics rather than just rapping about rapping (although I’d personally like to see a little more of that).  The album is solid, although the production and hooks didn’t always keep me drawn in.  There also isn’t replay value where songs have a specific story or lesson you only need to hear once, which is why it would benefit Joell to show off his rhymes and wordplay more often on his studio albums.  I have a feeling he’s saving some of that for the upcoming Slaughterhouse album though.

My Grade: B

My Joint:

 

Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #18 on the countdown!

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