Joell Ortiz the Brooklyn
11/7/05 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
From the streets of
Brooklyn comes Joell Ortiz, an underground artist that may not
stay incognito for much longer. Joell's credibility as a
"complete package" mc has been bubbling up with the release of
each mixtape that he's featured on, garnering the respect of
fans and established artists alike.
Joell would begin to hone
his craft in junior high, taking a hiatus from making music
when he struggled to care for a mother with a cocaine
He would end up selling the same poison that affected his
family to keep the bills paid and food on the table, things
eventually improved and Joell would end up back to writing
seriously again. He developed a name for himself as a fierce
battle rapper and has been quickly generating an industry
buzz, we speak to Joell in this exclusive interview.
Latinrapper.com: First of all, you're name always comes up
when people discuss the hottest underground prospects out
there. What was it that really jump started your buzz and got
people approaching you about your music?
There a lot of reasons that my buzz started growing over the
last year but if I had to choose one, I'd have to say, HARD
WORK! I know that seems like a real generic answer but hard
work is very important to me and everyone that I have around
me. Me and my whole team have busted our tails to get my name
You made Source mag's Unsigned Hype section, as well as
Chairman's Choice in XXL, beyond the actual promotion if
offered, how significant was it to you personally to be
selected for those features?
Any kind of recognition is good when your grinding to get your
name out there. But I gotta tell you, when I get emails from
kids all over the world telling me they feelin' my stuff it
makes me feel really, really proud. Magazines are great and I
appreciate being recognized by the industry but when I hear
from one of the people directly, I am touched.
Our last interview was with AZ, an artist with tremendous
cred but not in the spotlight as much as he deserves it.
What's it going to take for Joell Ortiz to break out of
underground recognition and achieve mainstream appeal?
I think its going to take me working harder on making a great
radio record, doing more shows, more press and more retail
runs. Generally, shaking more hands and kissing a lot more
What are you presently working on at the moment?
I'm working on a street album called the brick. It’s a bunch
of my long 125 freestyles that have become popular and some
new songs as well.
Whose producing the beats?
I'm using only new producers… Frank Dukes, my DJ: EMZ, Moss,
Fusion and some others that will kill me for not mentioning
there names (forgot)
What do you think the status of your music career would be
if mixtapes weren't as popular?
I'd be ok cause I make good 12 inches and my shows are solid
How important do you think mixtapes will be to breaking
artists over the next ten years?
Mixtapes will always be important but I think the formats will
be different. Everything will be digital therefore the artists
will be able to get to audience faster. From the studio right
to your hands. You will also probably be able to watch the
What's your most memorable or significant collabo to date,
By far the most memorable collabo is the one I did with Big
Daddy Kane. I was very very young when he started but I
remember being around when dudes were blasting his music
around me. At the session he told me that he co-signed Biggie
and Jay before anyone else did and he felt I was in there
league. I almost passed the f**k out (laughs)
Are there any artists out there you'd like to collaborate
with at the moment?
Ludacris, he is ill and he has fun on records.
What artist has made the biggest influence on your music
Big Pun, he showed me, as a Latin Rapper that we can be
ourselves and win.
What do you think distinguishes you from most other
unsigned artists out today?
I strive to be a total package emcee. My songs are great, my
shows are tight, my freestyles are ill, my pen is sick and my
battle game has been tested and I won. Sounds cocky but I been
at this for 8 long years, NON STOP. I have a right to be
confident. I'm Just like someone that goes to college for four
years in a field, then after graduating works at that same
field for another four years gets called an expert. I feel I
have the right to be called an “expert”
Ask any hip hop head to name Brooklyn MCs that made an
impact on the game and you'll hear names like Biggie, Hov, Mos
Def, Guru. Do you see yourself being mentioned alongside
artists of that stature in the future?
I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t.
Who is rap music's G.O.A.T.?
LL Cool J… He is a total package emcee to the tenth degree! He
went through battles, great and not so great albums, great
Shows, he has come back from defeat and reclaimed his title,
he is the man!
You used to hustle, do you think rap glamorizes that
lifestyle, or does the industry offer hustlers a way off of
A little of both. If you a real hustler you gonna find away
out the street and into a legal hustle. But at the same time
the rap game does glorify the getting paid by any means
bulls**t too much. I wanna get paid just as bad as anyone but
I ain't hurtin' nobody for a chain, pocket money or a car to
What's similar, if anything, between the dope game and
making a career in music?
Product, location and great salesmanship is important in any
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to make it in
this rap game?
I haven’t “made it” in order to really give advice but from my
experience I suggest y'all get some thick skin, be coachable,
work hard and have fun.
Any last thoughts?
I am one of you. I do this cause I love the artform. I love my
people and I am proud to be able to represent y'all. That’s
why I work so hard at my craft. No one will ever be able to
say Joell Ortiz was a gimmick cause he is Latin.
Joell Ortiz on the web:
Joell Ortiz on Myspace:
Joell Ortiz on Twitter: