Alright, let’s just get into the nitty gritty shall we? After listening to: the Bodega Chronicles, countless mixtapes, as well as his phenomenal outing with the supergroup Slaughterhouse, I expected Joell Ortiz’s Free Agent to be an insane piece of work. I expected this album to show why he was part of Slaughterhouse and to be a statement to Death Row on why they should have kept him on the roster. What I didn’t expect was to have all my high hopes turned into toilet paper. This album is arguably one of the most hyped letdowns since Del & Tame One’s Parallel Uni-Verses. For all the praise Joell has been given for the way he’s been known to rip mics and all the hype this album has received, this release is mediocre AT BEST.
The intro serves to explain a little about Joell’s career and the reason behind the album’s name. After the stage has been set the first track on deck is “Put Some Money On It” featuring The Lox. While it is the one of the more promising tracks Free Agent has to offer, Joell seems to have forgotten a commandment laid down by Jay-Z’s Blueprint, “Thou shalt not have guest spots that out rap you on your own album.” While Joell holds his own on a few bars, the track seems more like it belongs to The Lox and Joell has the guest spot. From there the album goes from mediocre track to mediocre track. What’s more, the guests on this album seem to be picking up the slack left by Mr. Ortiz. When left to his own creativity, Joell struggles to show that same fire he’s had on previous outings. For proof of this look no further than the track, “Nursery Rhyme.” What could have been a stand out track with innovative wordplay is nothing more than weak references and muddled attempts at being clever.
The main reason this album is such a letdown is because it is Joell’s album. Had this been a release from someone up and coming or a no name, then the bar may not have been as high. But this is Joell Ortiz we are talking about, one of many Puerto Rican MCs fighting to fill the void left by Pun. With Free Agent, Ortiz had the chance to solidify his position as the frontrunner. But with this outing Joell struggles to show why this free agent should be signed to anyone’s roster.
-written by the One Mic, J. Hyde