The Bottom Line
The Brooklyn native member of the former rap super-group Slaughterhouse delivers his fifth studio album, proving he’s dedicated to the lyricism that made him a rap maestro.
Joell Ortiz wasn’t the most popular member of Slaughterhouse but his writing skills were on par with, or better than anyone in the group. One could also argue that he has the best discography of anyone in the group. Since the disbandment of Slaughterhouse, Joell Ortiz has put out nothing but high quality projects while sticking to his lyrics-first approach.
Monday is unique for an album name. Most people dread Mondays because it’s the start of the new work week where they have to go back to the job that they hate. The album opens with a track titled ‘Monday’ and it’s a short skit of someone explaining how Mondays are for the hardest-working people out there. All of the go getters.
The beat on the first rap track “Captain” is super dope. It’s smooth with just the right amount of bass to let Joell’s punchlines hit home. One of the reasons opening tracks are so important is because they’re supposed to set the tone for the rest of the album. Being the true lyricist Joell is, he delivers some epic bars with no chorus.
Tryna out-rap Nasir and keep up wit Jay-Z / Crumblin' sixteens, I was only sixteen / Fast-forward, n***** out here mumblin', B / Why be smart when n***** on the charts dumber than me? / A bunch of bums with more money than me / So stayin' complex, yeah, that's an everyday struggle for me / I'm from when everybody wanted five mics / And Riggs Morales gave you "Unsigned Hype" if you rhymed right /– Captain
Small detail: the delivery of the last line on this track, “enjoy the rappin” is delivered flawlessly.
An underrated aspect of Joell Ortiz is his masterful ability to ride the beat. It shouldn’t come as a surprise since he’s been rapping for 15+ years but it’s amazing to hear every time. The track “Champion” is a perfect example of this. The shamanistic chants in the background are lined up with Joell’s lyrics to perfection.
One of the many high points on this project is the track “Anxiety”. The beat is uptempo, sounds murky and gives off the feeling of someone struggling to keep it together. This is one of those songs that sounds incredible with headphones on and the volume set just a tad too high.
I keep my faith strong, if there's a Lord up in the sky / I pray that I feel happy one more time before I die / I get glimpses, then it's gone in an instance / Joy's in front of me and then it's off in the distance / No one in my phone book I could call for assistance / 'Cause they won't understand what I be goin' through, what is this? /– Anxiety
For the most part, the hooks on this album aren’t bad. A major factor in most non-mainstream hip hop music is the lack of quality hooks. With that being said, the hook on “Jamaican Food” is very meh. This is the only track on this project that gave off the impression of a filler song. It’s really the only low-point during this entire album, which is otherwise fantastic.
For being such an adept lyricist, his songwriting ability is superb for a non-mainstream rapper. The track “Momma” is a track dedicated to, you guessed it, his mother. Not only is the chorus sung beautifully by Blakk Soul, but the delivery of the lines are also crisp.
Mama, I'm so proud of you in case you didn't know / Not the verbal type of son and plus I'm always on the go / But see, I do talk to these beats and so I figured I would show / How much I love you through this flow, perform this at my show / Have every light up in the air until the venue starts to glow / Almost as much as your smile does when I walk through your door /
Joell Ortiz is a rapper’s rapper. He brings the sound of the golden age of hip hop with him. He’s a lyricist at heart but he’s not going to overwhelm listeners with super complex rhyme schemes and tons of double and triple entendres. Instead, he delivers bars that are purified to perfection.
This album is extremely well done and is a testament to Joell’s dedication to his craft. It’s the perfect length for someone who’s new to Joell Ortiz and for hardcore fans alike. What makes this album easy to listen to is the smooth production and sharp, refined lyrics. Joell once again proves he can carry a project by himself without changing who he is at the core.