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Joell Ortiz & Novel, Defying the Predictable

Joell Ortiz & Novel
Defying the Predictable

Beats: L
Lyrics: XL
Originality: XL

Outside of his work with the hip-hop collective Slaughterhouse, Joell Ortiz has also spent much of the last few years collaborating with Los Angeles rapper/singer/producer Novel. On their first official mixtape together, Defying the Predictable, they successfully steer clear of cliché records by finding fresh takes on a variety of subjects.

The project works, largely because the pair never reaches too far outside of their comfort zone. Instead, they touch on topics that don’t usually constitute run-of-the-mill mixtape material. On the empowering “I Can Be President,” they swap verses about the opportunities afforded after President Obama’s historic November 2009 victory. On the soulful Statik Selektah-produced “Here the Next,” they speak about making the most of the chances they’ve received in the music business. And on the demoralizing “Stressful,” the duo flips Drake’s optimistic “Successful” to let off steam about struggling with poverty.

But the real strength of Defying the Predictable is that—while Novel certainly holds his own both rapping and singing—Ortiz continues to show tremendous growth as an artist. From his all-too-real depictions of the streets on the bare bones “Ghetto” to the more positive message of hope on the uplifting “Stand Up,” the Brooklyn rapper consistently delivers performances that are animated and entertaining. But he saves his best effort for “Like I Know,” where he makes some controversial statements about Slaughterhouse and Benzino before spitting: “I want my son to see a world that I ain’t never saw/I want my mans to pick up a check instead of raw.” And if that means taking a less conventional approach to a mixtape to get some well-deserved attention, then so be it. —Chris Yuscavage

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  • AZ40

    I have to disagree with the reviewer’s point about novel “holds his own both singing and rapping” I would rather him just sing. Joell is great at putting street albums together he is an artist that not only has punchline but has a lot of substance in his material

  • Vhingrhamesonyo’momma

    how is this being released? nets,stores..what?

  • Dominikingz

    I recently heard this album this weekend and this shit is fire!!! Joell definetely is taking over for Pun’s place in the rap industry.

  • Teddy Handsome

    Jackin For Beats is another Joell BANGER. I copped this last week and its fire as well! Second Coming Of PUN!

  • balaramesh

    joel is dope! his wordplay is probably the best out.

  • Sharoyce Antwan

    I listened to this mixtape two weeks ago. I just gotta say that I would’ve had to buy that shit if it wasnt free. Novel is like a fusion of Lyfe Jennings/D’Angelo and Q Tip, while Joell Ortiz is just a plain genius with the proliferation of his conceptual lyricism. Once I listened to this album it reminded me once again that the songs I’m doing right now are bullshit. You can really feel the MCs who have that hip hop shit embedded in there souls, another reason I cant fuck w/ them lyrically. Good ass mixtape!

    If anybody makes soulful beats contact me
    marquisdotroberts at gmail dot com

    • ee bubble

      real talk right there, i had this in the crib and a couple of dudes who write and make music, were like dying to leave and go to the lab to do new shit, when you got a hot mixtape like thsi that inspires, that s wat its about.
      this joint is fire and i like that novell kid rhyming as well as singing. they made a good collabo.

  • treetop1000

    This dude the truth Joell spits for real…

  • mrproh