17 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

One of the best new MCs to emerge in the post-millennium era, Brooklyn native Joell Ortiz started generating a huge buzz around 2004, earning props from both The Source's Unsigned Hype and XXL's Chairman's Choice, thanks to a breakout mixtape. With his rugged flow, intricate lyricism, projects-bred street sensibility, and smooth wittiness, major labels started hollering, eventually leading to a deal with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. Though they eventually parted ways, he kept busy with a steady stream of excellent indie albums, most notably 2007's The Brick: Bodega Chronicles and 2009's Slaughterhouse debut (with Crooked I, Joe Budden, and Royce Da 5'9"). Free Agent finds him working with some of hip-hop's best producers, including Premier, Just Blaze, Large Professor, and Nottz, delivering his potent verses over excellent NYC-centric beats. Everything on here is great, especially the LOX collabo "Put Some Money On It," the single "Sing Like Bilal," and horn-infused romantic joint "Call Me (She Said)."

EDITORS’ NOTES

One of the best new MCs to emerge in the post-millennium era, Brooklyn native Joell Ortiz started generating a huge buzz around 2004, earning props from both The Source's Unsigned Hype and XXL's Chairman's Choice, thanks to a breakout mixtape. With his rugged flow, intricate lyricism, projects-bred street sensibility, and smooth wittiness, major labels started hollering, eventually leading to a deal with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. Though they eventually parted ways, he kept busy with a steady stream of excellent indie albums, most notably 2007's The Brick: Bodega Chronicles and 2009's Slaughterhouse debut (with Crooked I, Joe Budden, and Royce Da 5'9"). Free Agent finds him working with some of hip-hop's best producers, including Premier, Just Blaze, Large Professor, and Nottz, delivering his potent verses over excellent NYC-centric beats. Everything on here is great, especially the LOX collabo "Put Some Money On It," the single "Sing Like Bilal," and horn-infused romantic joint "Call Me (She Said)."

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