Denial: Not just a river in Africa

It must be tough to get *this* close to being successful and then have it all snatched away from you. Of course I wouldn’t know, because this is about as close as I’ll ever get to being successful.

Joell Ortiz, on the other hand, was signed to Aftermath Records. That’s the same record label as 50 Cent. And you see what happened to him. But that was last year. As of right now, Joell Ortiz has been reduced to doing video interviews with Miss Info in a motel room somewhere in Staten Island. (Which, I’ve always read, is where New York buries its garbage. Dig the symbolism!)

I hadn’t even been aware that Joell Ortiz was dropped from Aftermath until just now. I remember a while back there was that video of him in the studio talking about how Dr. Dre doesn’t exactly “return his phone calls,” or “appear in the least bit interested in working with him,” and how he had heard through the grape vine that he was about to get dropped like a bad habit.

But I figured it might be one of those situations where he isn’t really dropped from the label per se, but he’ll never be receiving any money from the label, and the label is never gonna release any projects by him, and he won’t actually be allowed to enter the label’s headquarters. Not unlike the way Def Jam is planning to string along the old Roc-A-Fella lineup indefinitely, for PR purposes.

Come to find out, it was announced that Joell Ortiz had indeed been “let go” from Aftermath at the very end of one of these uber-low budget videos directed by this guy Rik Cordero. And I would have known this, except for the fact that I hardly ever watch those videos. Especially not to the very end, if all it’s gonna be is a buncha dudes standing out on a street corner mean-mugging into the camera as if this was 1993.

Don’t get me wrong, I think these kinds of videos are a brilliant idea… in theory. It’s just that I’m hardly ever compelled to watch them. Part of the problem could be that, more often than not, it’s this provincial New York second rate major label detritus like Joell Ortiz, Beanie Sigel, Duck Down, and what have you. If the budget is no longer an issue, why not get some rappers I might actually like? Or does this guy still charge quite a bit?

Anyhoo, I caught the video of Joell Ortiz talking about the ups and the downs (mostly the downs) of his career to date, and wow… the delusion with this guy.

For what it’s worth, he made it a point to note that he asked for his release from the label, and I wouldn’t want to have that be mistaken. He could have just as easily been like a lot of these guys who sit there on Aftermath for years on end without releasing an album, but I guess Joell Ortiz is gonna a make a go of it.

He even claims that that the album he eventually plans to release, once the lucrative bidding war over his services (heh) dies down, will feature the beats Dr. Dre was giving him while he was signed to Aftermath. Which would seem rather unlikely, given the circumstances of his release, but it could be the case that the Doctor was just giving him a buncha throwaways. I guess we’ll see.

What do you fruits think? Would it be overly pessimistic of me to suggest that Joell Ortiz might be better off at this point taking whatever largess Dr. Dre has seen fit to grant him and seeing about taking some night classes at the community college – you know, something that’s gonna benefit him over the long run?

Shit, I’m thinking about taking up meter-reading myself.

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  • E-Fleezy

    It’s not Joell Ortiz’s fault that the music industry is bullshit. This dude consistantly puts out good music. He does live shows and reps N.Y.C. to the fullest extent. Just because the industry is more concerned about the next minstrel show song and dance, doesn’t mean his time has come and gone. One day they’ll catch up, and hopefully for the state of New York hip-hop, Joell will still be around after all the smoke is cleared.

  • Pierzy

    Joell Ortiz is nice but he must’ve been dropped (or asked to be released) from Aftermath for a reason. And as far as using Dre beats, I mean, what could it hurt? Since no one sells records anymore as it is, wouldn’t it help his PR if he could say the album features 8 cuts by Dr. Dre? Remember, it’s not like Dre puts out a beat every three days like Swizz Beatz or whoever Lil Wayne is kissing at the moment. His name could still get people interested…for a little while anyway…

  • Around and Around

    Joell Ortiz is one of the few putting out some hot ish, but to be successful I think he needs to be shot

  • b-ease

    Joell is a real dope MC, but as of yet has only proved that he is a piss poor songwriter, which isn’t gonna fly on Aftermath or any major lable for that matter. Koch (who released his “mixtape” last year) is his best bet, now and forever.

    Unless he learns how to write an actual song.

    • BIG O

      co-sign ive been trying to say that about rappers like him,hell never be succesful in the mainstream cuz his songs suck ass.hell be another canibus soon.a dope lyracist without a song

  • AB

    At leastm people aren’t taking a shit in the backseat of his car.

    So there’s a bright side!

    • dronkmunk


  • I RUN THIS..

    Watz new? Datz how Aftamath operatez..”BRING’EM IN, KICK’EM OUT”…lol..standard procedure..Only The Game made out alive with a PLATINUM ALBUM..luk atda rest ofdem: Rakim, Mel Man, Reakwon(iz he stil der?)..da list is fuck Dr Dre..mayb diz izda best move 4dude..bydaway Dre, Kanye’s muzik iz betta dun he ritez hez own lyrics, hahaa

    • Nick

      Kanye > Dr. Dre?

      GTFO! You should be banned from life. Fail.

      And they way you type doesn’t make you cool shit looks retarded.

      • Manka Cat

        Co-sign with Nick. Shut the fuck up “I Run This”. You can’t honestly tell me you have ever even listened to The Chronic the whole way through. Retarded muthafucka show some respect. Kanye is great but Dre is the king.
        And like Nick said, stop with the gay-ass typing. It just helps everyone know your queer, with no real opinion before they even read your shit. Finally, take your own advice and look at the rest of the list. Eminem, 50 Cent, and everyone on their imprints. Obie, D12, G-Unit. Thank God they all have Game to look to as a role model. At least he got a platinum record…too bad Em only sold 18 mil…too bad poor 50 could only barely break Diamond…Fuck you.

        • Ether

          Dre Ain’t The King Of Shit, When Was The Last Time He Had A Hit? Exactly, Thank You. DJ Premier Will Mop The Floor With Dr. Dre, And Kanye Is Well On His Way To Being One Of The Greatest.

        • EReal

          Last time I checked Premier didnt pioneer an entire sub genre of music, so you might wanna fall back wit all that. Even tho preemo is the truth especially lately with the Skyzoo and Term mixtapes.

  • B. Jato

    This is my first post on XXL. So first, good job, its gotta be something to get me to actually respond. Now I can’t even front I haven’t bought an album since Big’s double LP. Love Lil Wayne’s music, could care less about his or anybody else’s personal life. Now that being said. I have not been excited about any rapper’s rap skills till I heard Joell Ortiz. Wow I know I don’t get out much, but with the below average raps being put out, how can you say anything negative about Joell? The fact that he might not sell or is even having problems getting an album out on a major label, just goes to prove what dismal state the music business is in right now. I mean seriously I’m not saying he is the best rapper at all, but for him to get dissed like that is crazy! Like I said I don’t buy albums, but if he puts out an album, I’ll download it for free and send a personal check to his home address. Keep up the good work J.Ortiz. Oh yeah the track he did “channelling” Big Pun gave me the chills!

  • these posts are racist

    In general, most rappers have never made a lot of money. It is rare for rappers to get rich and only a handful who get wealthy.

    The problem with really commenting on Ortiz’s situation is that we don’t know all the facts and circumstances behind any of what you discuss. We don’t know what it really means to be “signed”, ie what are the terms of his contract. What business decisions were made, etc. It’s pure speculation made from assumptions and facts that are not known to be true.

  • RAY


  • Allen_J

    The stuff he writes are songs. They may not be club bangers or dance hit but it’s a song. Just because he tells storys or speaks on life experiences doesn’t make it not a song.

  • b-ease

    Allen, you’re absoulutely right, he does make songs.

    Just not good ones.

    • Allen_J

      Most of them are good I enjoy his story telling. How do you judge what’s a good song and what isn’t? Does it have to have a catchy beat or hook or dance step or what?

  • Fernando

    shut up tpar. we dont need to know all the facts befor commenting. Sh!t, the media does it 24/7. it the american way. Rumors lead to speculation which leads to reports which lead to stories and then the facts come out somewhere near the end.

    I dont need any confirmed facts to state that Bol is a fat black man that lives in his moms basement and has a super ghey lisp when he talks.

  • Johnny Blackwell

    First off FUCK AFTERMATH!!!!!!

    How many people have been signed to that label only to be shelved indefintely. Let’s see Rakim, Hittman, Truth Hurts, Raekwon, etc. As for Bishop Lamont, just wait until his album gets shelved too.

    Dre can sit in his studios all fucking day and night and make dope beats, but his label is fucking bullshit. Sure he gets a cut from both Eminem and 50, but that’s about the extent of Aftermath’s income. Why have a label rosted when you don’t release any albums.

    Aftermath = the kiss of death to your career

    • Jason Murk

      Cosign. Dre is about as good at runnin Aftermath as Jay Z was at runnin Def Jam.

  • marko_v

    Never really liked the dude even tho he’s an exceptionally good rapper. Shame how having skills wit the pen just isn’t good enough anymore. Check out my new joint tho on my myspace page and tell me wht you think.

  • yoprince

    dude’s garbage.. he didn’t deserve an entire post..

  • Josh

    Joell is one of the few MCs in the new class that had mic skills. He’s ill.

    Bol, what did you think of the En Why Cee video?
    Admit you like it!!

    And Prolyfic don’t like you.

  • E guys are full of sh!t i bet if you bet dre youd fuckin faint!! FYI TRUTH HURTS PUT OUT AN ALBUM FROM AFTERMATH…and you wanna talk bout artists Dre has created and made platinum?

    Snoop Dogg
    Ice Cube
    The Game
    50 Cent

    there is a reason he is considered the best..dumbasses

    • LowEndofDaChi

      Dre “created” Nas and made him go platinum?

      Can I please have some of whatever it is you smoke?

  • 910Promotions

    Joell is nice… I’m promoting some local artists out of Fayetteville , NC .. check em out.

  • mookie


  • jg420

    Shit Bol you know that Billy X is going to be pissed. You cant go at his boy like that

  • I RUN THIS..

    To Manka Cat & Nick> Dr Dre Stans

    So what does it mean to have your own imprint?..It means NOTHING HOMMIE..The last time i check, out of everybody you mentioned, only 50 is stil signed to Aftermath, Em is out of his contract, 5 albums & a Greatest Hits.Obie is signed to Shady and so is D12, but ofcourse you know this, what am i saying?….Actually what’s your point? All i said was that the only artist that left Aftermath and escaped Dre’s reign of terror and still managed to have a platinum album is Game.

    As for Dre being King and The Chronic..look i dont know if you still remember back then there where stories about how Daz & Sam Sneed worked on the Chronic and where never credited because Dre wanted all the shine. Look at the sleeve and check if anyone but Dre is credited.

    The same rumours came out when he did Chronic 2000 about Scott Storch, Mel Man and Mike Elizondo( I guess you never read about their fall out but he’s back with Dre and this time he’s getting his credits). The same rumours came out after he did GRDT. Remember why Mel Man left Aftermath because he never got credited for the work he did on 50′s debut? Dre took all the shine AS USUAL..AND SOME REASON DETOX NEVER CAME OUT THAT YEAR, I WONDER WHY?..hmmm

    The same RUMORS came out about who really produced “Outta Control” the original and the remix(MARK BATSON). Not so long ago Hi-Tek and Red Spyda where on Scratch talking about how they’re producing Detox. SO NOT ONLY IS DR DRE NOT PRODUCING HIS ALBUM BUT HES NOT WRITING AS WELL, SO WHATS THE HYPE ALL ABOUT?

    Now,tell ME how many GHOST PRODUCING AND GHOST WRITING STORIES RUMOURS HAVE YOU HEARD ABOT KANYE? “Jesus Walks” doesnt count because he co-wrote it with Rhymfest. I mean Kanye has won Grammy’s for writing songs (“you dont know my name” by Alcia Keys..dude come. 3 Classic albums back to back. Never mind about the work he does for John Legend and Common.

    Since 2000, Kanye has made great music, great albums(CONSISTENCY, WE CANT SAY THE SAME ABOUT MR ANDRE YOUNG).. The Blueprint(wadup Juzt Blaze),The Black Album, Collegge Drop(Grammy) Out, Late Registration(Grammy), Common “BE”(Grammy), John Legend-Grammy(Both albums), Alicia Keys(Grammy), Late Registration(Grammy) etc etc..By the way what was Dr Dre’s last hit?

    • og bobby j

      Kanye is soo good **SLURP….SLURP** His Albums are great ** SLURP ** (Caress those nuts stan)

    • Manka Cat

      I Run This: Great post. Thanks for avoiding the typing seizures. And thanks for making an intelligent response with facts and history. I’d like to clarify that I never dissed Kanye. I have all of his albums, and believe he deserved his grammys. He is a great asset to Hip-Hop today, and probably the best in the game right now. BUT if your going to go with consistency, Dre has been the center of hype (and controversy) over 20 years. Since we’re no longer talking about just Aftermath, (and by the way, just because Em filled his contract doesn’t mean he isn’t on Aftermath. Em’s new project is an aftermath release, and while your right that having your own inprint doesn’t mean jack shit, it does get Aftermath more money. Dre did work on Cheers, as well as some of the G-unit albums, and got his cut), I’ll consider Dre’s entire career here, as far as calling him King. It’s not just about recent hits. In the eighties he was part of very groundbreaking sounds from the World Clas Wreckin Cru and of course N.W.A. He produced beats and rhymed alongside Cube and E years before his name was a house hold name. He discovered Snoop, and started one of the most successful labels of the nineties with Suge Knight. Now, I’m sure you know all this, but you still want to say Kanye is a better icon in Hip-Hop? I have heard rumors about him ghost writing, I believe from one of Bol’s posts. (No, I know, he’s not what I would call a “credible source”.) As far as “consistency” goes, Dre has survived longer than any other person in Hip-Hop to date, while still keeping the fans waiting for more. Dre is the King of Hip-Hop, because of ability to survive, adapt, and find new talent. What has Kanye added to the game besides his producing abilities and Lupe? What gives him the ability to survive? I’ll agree that he made three classics back to back, and that is impressive. But so did DMX, and while I still love his shit, he’s not exactly on top like he was in 2000. In 2002 Ja had what would have been considered three classics at the time and look what happened to him. 50 ended his carreer in a couple months. Kanye hasn’t had any real beef to deal with yet, at least not on wax. Dre has survived Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dupri, and all the shit he gets pulled into because of Em and 50. Not to mention 2pac himself. Dre has a hell of a lot more going for him than Kanye. Again, thanks for an intelligent response, much respect.

  • pull

    Co-sign all of I Run This…’s post. The fact that Dre knocked out a couple of classic albums in the early nineties and then a whole slew of middle of the road pop-rap since doesn’t wash with me whether he ghost-produced them or not. lol @ that guy above listing a bunch of artists that dre “created or made platinum” and including Ice Cube, Nas & 2pac.

    I’m glad he’s not on aftermath, we might actually get a good Joell Ortiz album without a load of expensive sounding, soulless beats and a flood of guest artists that no-one gives two shits about.

  • teh-thomas

    man, joel ortiz is boring.

    im not even interested in what you have to say about him, bol, ortiz is that dull.

  • Wesley Gibson

    I think the real problem is that rap is a winner take all market and as such there really isn’t much room anymore for local acts that don’t add anything different to the mix. No one wants to improve on the design, they just think the older guys should move over so that they can be the ones spitting the same ole coke rhymes (forgive me if Joel Ortiz is more than a coke rhymer I tend to try to avoid mediocrity whenever possible). Say what you will about Souljah Boi but at least it sounds different. Also, personal note to Bol stop hating on Lupe. He’s infinitely better than all the rappers you seem to love. His music is genuinely good, conceptually complex and pretty much blows the rest of the crap out there out of the water. And he’s right about tribe. Where I’m from we didn’t listen to that crap neither. It was Pac and $hort, etc. I never really could see tribe as anything greater than a less musically complex precursor to the Black Eyed Peas. Nullus.

  • I RUN THIS..

    Thank you PULL…

  • I RUN THIS..

    To Manka Cat> Great Response bt i disagree with 2 points that you made:

    1.Classic Albums
    The reason why Kanye West is such a big deal is because he writes his own lyrics and produces his own music. Something that Dre, Jay-Z, Nas, 50, Game, Rakim, Ja Rule, DMX or anybody that is perceivd to be HUGE can not do.
    Plus to put a cherry on top, the total package sounds dope, classic material. Plus on top of that, he does that for alot of other artists, Jammie Foxx, Common, Luda, John Legend, Alicia get the picture.

    2. Beef
    Beef doesnt mean anything. Kanye is from a totaly different background. So you cant use that against him. Its not his fault that his mother was an English Profesor. But dude still managed to write a song like “Cant Tell me Nothing” which half the population of the globe can relate to. As for Dr Dre, dude got Royce 5’9 to write him a song about his late brother, COME ON!..this is your brother, only you know how you feel, anyway thats my piece and yes 20yrs in the game is a long time and yes Dr Dre is a Hip Hop Icon.

  • Manka Cat

    I Run This – Good points, again, but I’m not saying Kanye needs beef to prove himself. I’m saying Dre has. Dre has survived. Only time will tell if Kanye can still be a name to recognize in 15 years. Also, I’ve never heard about Nas or DMX having ghost writers, and I would consider Nas’s sound to be a complete package, especially on newer shit like God’s Son and Hip-Hop is dead, though Kanye gets more props for producing his own shit. If these are the reasons why Kanye is awesome, Eminem would be just as big. He produces a lot of his own beats, (remember Kanye doesn’t produce all his own shit, e.g. Can’t tell me nothing which was produced by DJ Troomp), writes all his own lyrics, helps others write (like 50), and produces for everyone from Jay-Z to Nas to everyone affiliated with Aftermath. (Remember that Dre produced several beats on Kingdom Come alone).

    Royce writing The Message is some bullshit, I’ll give you that.

  • Industry Nigga

    For rappers, The stigma from being ‘dropped’ is nearly impossible to overcome. Being ‘dropped’ is just like being Blacklisted from the ‘Industry.’ It means your damaged goods and is nearly impossible to come back from. It means your no longer a priority or finacned so the calls don’t get returned from the ‘big producers.’ Nobody is looking to get features or go on tour with an artist that’s just been ‘dropped.’ For what? The Rap Industry is indeed RUTHLESS!

    For the artist, The hardest part about being ‘dropped’ is admitting that – as far as being a ‘Star,’ it is in fact OVER, so yeah there’s a huge amount of denial involved. Almost all of these dudes have no real education and no Plan B. Your talking about street niggas that have been pursuing a Rap career for all their natural youth and adult lives. Its everything they are up in smoke!

    How would you deal with that?

    Ultimately, the problem with Joell Ortiz is, even though he is a phenominal lyricist, he looks like the guy that runs the sound at a show and not the guy on stage…Sorry its true.

  • og bobby j

    To chime in….Kanye might right his own shit…but IMO his shit is weak lyrically. He is an excellent producer…but he should invest in a ghostwriter….or stay out the booth.

  • I RUN THIS..

    To Manka

    I never said Dmx and the others have ghost writers. The point i was trying to make was that Kanye can write and produce and thats something that all the ICONS i mentiond earlier can not do, thats it.
    Yes, i do know Kanye didnt produce “cant tell me nothing”hence i said he WROTE it..
    As Royce, dude said it on the Beef Dvd, i gues we gonna have to check the credits because i dont knw his real name bt i can find out.

    Well, yes your rite dude produces and writes his own stuff bt the diference between him and Kanye is that Ye’s material sounds better and you knw this, end of story.

  • Thank You…

    I share the same sentiment about this guy Rik Cordero and his videos. The idea of these viral campaigns is cool, but his execution of these videos is real 94. every blogger seems to be his cut buddy and bigs them up, i can never sit through a whole*ts are weak, f*ck the budget…

  • h.e.r.

    I think this post is a waste, this is as close as you’ll ever get to being successful, hating might have something to do with that.. but then again i wonder what got you here in the first place.

    Shout out to Rik Cordero and their unstoppable movement of trying to work with a dollar and a dream for unappreciated artist such as Joell. how can you not respect that? smh

  • h.e.r.

    I think this post is a waste, this is as close as you’ll ever get to being successful, hating might have something to do with that.. but then again i wonder what got you here in the first place.

    Shout out to Rik Cordero and their unstoppable movement of trying to work with a dollar and a dream for unappreciated artist such as Joell. How could you not respect that? smh

  • Saint

    Ortiz IS dull. Yes he can MC, yes he can write a song (whatever that means these days), yes he’s actually saying something when he rhymes, but godamn the bastard is boring. When I find myself asking myself whether a rapper is personable enough for me to listen to him……

  • MC Duke

    Joell was on the come up, he got lucky when Dre ‘signed’ him, if he got some money that would be more than he was ever going to see without the Dre ‘break’ so let’s just hope he invested wisely and cuts his losses. then again even if he put the cash into property it’s probably worth jack shit now with the fucked up economy. damn, double whammy

  • MZA

    Joell Ortiz is one of the most overrated rappers in the industry right now. Note; overrated doesn’t equal sales. His flow is terrible, he’s supposed to be the second coming of Big Pun or some shit, but Pun, who was about twice his size, had better breath control than Joell. He has boring ass beats that would put the average person to sleep(like most underground emcees), and can’t construct a song to save his life. There’s a difference between poetry and music; maybe Joell is a decent writer when it comes to poetry, but he couldn’t write a hook or follow a beat to save his life.

    You hip-hop purists need to get off the broke-man’s dick. The only people you cheer on are these wack-ass rappers who are likely to move a thousand units, because they make you feel better about yourself. Anyone can write lyrics. Just look at Canibus. But can anyone make a song? No.