By Kevin L. Clark Joell Ortiz is not a stage rapper. He doesn’t have a catchy nickname manufactured from the T.I.’s of the music industry. He doesn’t have an entourage or diva-like tendencies. All the kid from Brooklyn needs is a hot beat and a microphone to set on fire. The Bodega Bully is a throwback to an era when New York just needed a few simple things to turn the world on its ear. With those days seemingly replaced by cookie-cutter rappers, Mr. 125 (Grams, that is…) is set to drop one T.R.O.Y. of an album on your with the Koch distributed joint, “The Brick (Bodega Chronicles).” The rapper has overcome adversity to become one of the most buzzworthy artists to come out of the Tri-State. After signing a deal with the Quincy Jones of Hip-Hop, Dr. Dre, Ortiz is looking to pick up the torch that was put on hold when Big Pun passed. Comparisons aside, Joell is a man’s man. To be respected as such is a rarity in the world of hip-hop, but Ortiz is looking to change things for the better. He sits down with CrackSpace as he talks about his comparisons with the late Bronx MC, explains why New York never jetted and explains why his mother is his biggest inspiration. HHC: A lot of heads regard you as an ill emcee, but I know Pun was one of your heaviest influences. What about his style is mirrored with yours? JO: The one thing that I can say we both bring to the table is that real element to a track. If you had never met us, but heard us on a track, you would believe our stories. If you see how we address the streets and rap on the beat is beastly. You can tell that we’re not fronting. I mix up the way I spit my flows. The comparisons also come because I’m Spanish, but I have to enjoy that comparison, he’s a legend. So, with that, I’ll just have to take it in stride. HHC: How’d you come up with the 125 Grams series? JO: What happened was I got tired of people getting mean 16’s from me. So, I was utilizing the Internet early on in my career, so I felt like I had to raise the standard. I started to spitting this track and I counted the bars and it came out to 125. My dude, Mike Heron, told me to put that together and throw some songs around it and call it, “The Brick.” What was interesting was that we were talking to Koch Records before we spoke with Dr. Dre at Aftermath. He was really feeling me at the time. They flew me out there, ASAP! A few days later, we had a dinner meeting with Aftermath’s staff. I met Dre in the studio. He heard the record and liked it. He brought me out there because he wanted to make sure that I wasn’t a knucklehead. I told him that I just like rapping over beats. The only thing people were going to say about me is that I’m a problem… on these records! Dude, you have to think about it… for ten years of grinding, it only took a ten minute meeting to change my life. He gave me a blessing by letting me drop the album on Koch. I made promises to the people over there, so it was cool. I sent him out the album. He called me and let me do it. Everyone at Interscope didn’t know what was going on at the time. I was bugging when I heard that Dre was on the phone for me. He said the album was crazy and told me to get my money. HHC: I was reading in a bio about you and you said that your eyes “speak poverty.” Do you think Hip-Hop, Incorporated will ever get a hold of the real Joell Ortiz? JO: I’m pretty sure it would… but not Dre. He’s really into letting you be you. He’s a hip-hop pioneer, of course, but a fan first. He hasn’t changed anyone in his entire career. He takes the craft that you do and puts it on a wider stage. He lets you do you. When you heard Eminem first out, he’s still the same dude, today. 50 Cent was a beast on the mix tape circuit and became a beast under the Aftermath label, too. He doesn’t change you. He just puts you out there. I know there will be bigger things, like a bigger budget, but I cannot lose touch. I can’t because I don’t know how to. I’ve been in the gutter, dude, for twenty years and some change. This is what I live. I will never change what I talk about. HHC: I mean, it’s a rule of thumb that once you start doing well, you got to live the part. B.I.G. was the perfect example of doing that with some semblance of balance. How do you think you can tip-toe the fine line between being street respected and a viable commercial artist? JO: It all goes back to not fixing what’s not broke. You got to dance on that line. Me being from the underground, I saw the dudes who have the potential. But the audience isn’t always as smart as they are. Sometimes you have to spoon-feed people. Let’s be real, there’s not <i>that</i> much to talk about. Everyone says the same thing in a different way. We can all say that we’ve sold crack… but that’s not vivid. I paint vivid pictures. Like talking about how bad I felt to sell crack to this woman while holding a baby. Think about B.I.G. Rest in peace… he was the best one to leave gutter joints over the pop tracks. No one ever said that B.I.G. sold out. That’s the angle that I plan on following. HHC: After Dre signed you to a deal, what was the first thing that you did? JO: I called my moms and told her that Dr. Dre was going to sign me. She was ecstatic. I mean you have to know my back story… my pops jetted when I was young and my mom was on drugs when she was younger. Now, she’s off the stuff… I remember telling her that this music was going to pop. From that point on, we’ve counted the days together that she’s been clean. So, when I got the deal, she was the first one that I thought about. HHC: Dre is truly a decision-maker, but his last few acquisitions – namely Rakim – fell through. Do you think Dre can put out this effort with no hassles? JO: I’ll be fine. I have a great work ethic. I love what I do. We already kicked it and he’s [Dre] excited. I like making words rhyme. I don’t try to over think it, I just stick to what I do. I’m going to do it every chance I get. Dude will respect that. The whole Latin thing is huge, so I represent that, too. The things that I do on April 24th with Koch will make this Aftermath thing even sweeter. I’m moving in such a positive way that there’s no way that I won’t be heard. It’s not even sales that I’m going for. At the end of the day, all I want is your respect. HHC: New York rap, in the opinions of others, is failing… I don’t really see that when you have artists like yourself, Papoose and Saigon trying to do something for all the boroughs. Is your album an affirmation of New York being “back”? Or do you want to make a totally different statement altogether? JO: My album is not bringing New York back… it never jetted to me. We just stopped making the records that worked for us. A lot of up and coming artists started aiming and directed their songs to certain audiences. Songs shouldn’t have a direction. The beat tells you what to do and you just lay the vocals. Producers try to tell me what type of beat I want. But there is no club joint, there is no song for the ladies, there are no joints that get in the club. I’m going to bring that feeling back, though. That feeling that people need in their life. We just shied away from what works with us. The DJs didn’t help, either, no knock on them, but you can’t say you’re bringing New York back and then play a Southern song. No hate to the South, either, that shit with them was long overdue. New York never left, they just left the feeling at home. Come to the studio with real producers. That’s what you’re going to get with “The Bricks” when it drops on the 24th. I love hip-hop. I love the culture. The money will come, so right now, I’m just happy with the respect. HHC: You scored 1400 on your SATs… why didn’t you go the academic route? JO: My moms was running around and getting high at any early age. So, I didn’t want to do me and then get a phone call with some drama. I was writing in the midst of all this, developing a passion, so it was a beautiful thing. I was putting my experiences on paper and I elected to stay home on HHC: Do you think that too many people turn to the streets to try and find a way out or does it boil down to whatever works for whoever, just as long as it works? JO:A lot of people turn to the streets. It’s easy. You don’t need an application, you don’t need any qualifications. You can get a pack from anywhere. You’re easily accepted in the streets. You don’t even have to finish your sentence. You go in the store and you’re on. Real life is hard to find your way in, so when you’re in, it’s hard to get up. I’m living proof that hard work reaps the benefits. Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it wasn’t for pain. I’m glad I got out and got into music. I know how to hustle anyway, so I’m going to be in this business and make sure that people hear my story. When the lights go up, I want to be here. I don’t have a stage name because I’m not a stage guy. I’m just like you, Kev. With my albums, you’re going to hear the guy that you chop it up on the block with. I’m nothing without my fans. I got love for y’all. HHC: You said that you’ve taken the long way to become successful. Through your journey what’s the one pivotal thing that you’ve learned that you’ll never forget? JO: One thing I learned is that you have to do everything. On the path to reaching your goal, you cannot pick and choose what you do. You have to do everything. Because in life, you’re no one until you’re someone. You do everything! Drops on mix tapes, stand in front of radio stations – I’ve done that. I’ve done press, I’ve handed out CDs in the middle of the Winter. Until you get on that stage and that light hits you, you’re just a fan with some dreams. You have to get into this game 100% and love it. It’s hard to do that, sometimes, because you don’t see the benefits off rip. But believe me… once you see them, you’ll be happy! HHC: One of the most poignant things that I read about was with your mother. How did her quitting drugs cold turkey inspire you within your personal aspirations? JO: It was great, man. We counted the days together. When the time got to a year… we cut a cake and all that! It was crazy. You know, it could have gone the other way. It could’ve gone the other route. You know you take that sigh of relief. That definitely leaked into my pen. It let me know to let y’all know that we’re all one bad decision away from a different lifestyle. That could be it and you’ll never see again. It’s scary, dude. I’m at one with myself. I know my purpose. It’s to break down that wall of Latin rappers to go from that to having people say that that dude is nice. I have a job to do and I’m here to bring the feeling back. My moms… that was ill, that’s one of the hardest things to kick. Drugs become physical; my mom kicked that with no doctors, no nothing. She kicked that for me. So, now… when I’m on these beats, I kick that shit for her.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno For fans of the BET show College Hill, you have chance to be on the spin-off show, College Hill: Interns. BET is looking for college students to be apart of the new reality show where according to the press release the “exciting new spin-off will delve into the interpersonal and business dynamics of eight college students living in a new city, hanging out in their new digs, and most importantly working at their new and exciting summer jobs. The cast will participate in an 8-10 week internship program at one sponsored parent company in one or more departments, and be assigned tasks, interactive workshops, company promotions, and various competitive challenges.” The deadline for applications is April 15 and you can apply online atCOLLEGE HILLIf you miss that deadline, you can catch the auditions in Boston tomorrow and in New York next week.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno For the next couple of weeks, it looks like Lil Jon will be taking a break from the recording studio to watch the NHL Playoffs. Yes, that’s right. Apparently, Lil Jon is a huge hockey fan and even a bigger fan of the Atlanta Thrashers. He’s such a huge fan that he is now blogging for the NHL during the entire playoffs. “I’ve been a hockey fan a long time,” Jon wrote on his blog. “I used to go watch the Atlanta Flames play back in the day when I was a little kid. I actually have one of the Atlanta Flames’ old jerseys because I bought the throwback. Then I got re-introduced to the game because my son plays hockey and I wanted to get him to a real game. So we started going to the Thrashers games. The first Thrashers game I went to they got into a shootout. That was amazing, and they won, and I was like dope! That really made me fall all the way in love with it. That first game they won, and they even used to call us a good luck charm, my son and I, because whenever we were in-house they won. We’ve been going so often that now I’m in cool with the players and the owner, and they’ve welcomed us into their household. We love to go to the games to have fun and support the team.” Jon has made a post since April 9, but you can check out the blog HEREthat he shares with other celebs like William Fichtner (Prison Break), Christie Brinkley, and Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY).
By: Hot Gossip Gal Ok it turns out that Jenny from the block may be getting rid of her annoyingly controlling hubby Marc Anthony. He actually owes some serious back taxes, so you can kinda understand why he is stuck to his gal like glue as she is the breadwinner in that household. Oh well another one bites the dust if the rumors are true. Kim Porter will be getting Diddy tagged if his ex comes on the market again thats for sure.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Ok so y’all doubted my story about Jeezy and The Bays round the way girl, but it is true y’all, the two are together and are quite happy that the those who actually care about what they are doing know they are a couple. All is good in the hood in would appear.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno It seems like Russell Simmons’ ex-lady, Kimora Lee, is doing just fine without him. She recently scored her own reality show on the Style Network tentatively called “Kimora”. The show will premiere this summer with cameras following her through her busy days. "Kimora Lee Simmons is simply a fascinating woman," said Salaam Coleman Smith, Executive Vice President, The Style Network. "She is refreshingly blunt, absolutely honest and outrageously entertaining … the kind of woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. Nothing she does is small, nothing she says is insignificant and nothing she wants is unavailable. This series is going to open a lot of women’s eyes to the possibilities life has to offer, and all of us at Style are happy to be working with such an inspirational woman." Kimora currently runs the day-to-day operations of the Baby Phat clothing line and the show will give a peek on what she was to go through on a normal day. She’s also busy raising her children, seven-year-old Ming Lee and four-year-old Aoki Lee, who will also get some screen time. Check with STYLE NETWORK in the coming weeks to get the show’s schedule.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno The man behind Yung Joc’s mega-hit “It’s Goin’ Down” is now planning on making more hits for Warner Bros. According to Billboard, producer Nitti has inked a production deal with the label for his Playmaker Music imprint. "I was looking for a home for my label where I could come in and bring new artists and they’d have a fair try," Nitti told Billboard.com. "I had a couple situations on the table for me. But when Warner reached out, it was the situation that I was trying to do." The two year deal will have Nitti producing Warner Bros. urban roster which includes Lil Scrappy, E-40 and Crime Mob as well as develop artists on his label which include rapper Young Capone and R&B singer Tocarra Hamilton. He’s also going to assist with the debut album from Attitude, a newly signed Warner Bros. that will be co-produced by Timbaland.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Sorry but I have to give credit to my girl Miss Info on this. Here is what she posted to her blog today, details from an e mail she received about how Pac is really alive and ready to walk back out on the stage again, on Comedy Central no less. My girl said ridiculous, I say dumb, dumb, dumb. Its the statement that Pac is supposed to have made that gets me. Tupac Shakur To Appear "Live" On Mind of Mencia, April 15th Tupac Shakur Still Alive Los Angeles, CA – April 11, 2007 - To the amazement of the music industry, entertainment industry and millions of fans worldwide Tupac Amaru Shakur, a hip hop star and screen actor long believed to be dead, will be returning to the public spotlight in a controversial live taping on the popular television show Mind of Mencia. The show will air Sunday April 15th on Comedy Central at 10pm, 9pm central. The show hosted by Latino comedian Carlos Mencia is known for its controversial racial statements and images, but has never tackled an issue with this much potential for backlash. "That’s why I chose to come back on Mind of Mencia" said Mr. Shakur in a telephone conference with several news media organizations. "Cause Carlos keep it real."…….
By: Rizoh Despite her lawyer’s attempt to get a $120 million assault lawsuit dismissed, Janet Jackson will have to testify in court and answer questions under oath. 41-year old Leonard Salati alleges that two of Jackson‘s bodyguards grabbed and choked him when he tried to pass her a note at Club Marquee in February 2004. Jackson’s attorney argued that she and her co-defendant, Jermaine Dupri, had only one bodyguard working for them at the Chelsea hot spot that night, and he was a "Caucasian," not African-American as Salati had claimed. Yesterday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Rolando Acosta allowed the case to go on, stating that despite Jackson‘s assertions to the contrary, the club—which was also named in the lawsuit—said she had at least three bodyguards, and two of them were African-American. “Notwithstanding counsel’s valiant effort to shield Ms. Jackson,” said Judge Acosta, “the law grants no exemptions based on celebrity status.” Ouch! Sorry Ms. Jackson, but that’s just one thing the cleavage won’t grant you access to.
By: Rizoh Snoop may not be going to the doghouse after all. The 35-year-old west coast wordsmith, born real name is Calvin Broadus Jr., was given five years probation and 800 hours of community service (400 of those will be devoted to his Youth Football League) after pleading a “no contest” to weapons and drugs charges. Snoop’s attorney Donald Etra said his client was grateful for the sentence. “He recognizes that he got a great a deal and he fully intends to make sure nothing prohibits him from keeping his part of the bargain.” Snoop basically got a slap on the wrist for toting guns and weed. I doubt a non-celebrity would receive the same courtesy. On a related note, the Dogg Father still has a pending case to answer to. He pled not guilty to possession of a deadly weapon in January after a collapsible police baton was found in his luggage as he attempted to catch a flight to San Francisco in September last year.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Yes it is true there is a NWWL in existence and it is hosted by none other than Carmen Elektra although she doesn’t actually appear in the nude. The show premiered on indemand pay per view last night and I am sure it has already got a pretty big following. take a peek here on the site NWWL Beyonce Told To Cover Up In Japan Yeah Jays girl was told to cover up her boobies in as she was about to enter a press conference on her recent tour to Japan. Wonder what Momma Tina has to say about that and to be honest B’s team should have known better than to have her flaunting her assets like that in a country that holds their women in highest regard.
By: Rizoh Pony up $23.8 million and you could be living in Russell Simmons’ home right now. The 4-acre mansion situated in Saddle River, NJ, is up for sale following Russell’s divorce from Kimora-Lee after 8 years of marriage. The estate, listed on sothebysrealty boats 10 bedrooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzi, cabana with bar, professional gymnasium, his and hers bathrooms, a movie theater with ticket taker and popcorn machine, among other amenities. Russell, 48, and Kimora, 30, tied the knot in 1998 and have two daughters: Ming Lee Simmons, 6, and Aoki Lee Simmons, 3. Both girls model for Baby Phat Clothing, Kimora’s offshoot of her husband’s Phat Farm clothing line.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Word on the street is Cam is looking to sign Olivia. Hmmm ok he just made dummy move number 2 if there is any truth in that. She didnt come out on G-Unit, she flopped on J Records and no matter what Duke Da God says about his label being ‘the dopest group of all time’..their boy Cam comes off a bit like the clown at my kids birthday party last week.
By: Rizoh Gather round, D-Block fans. Jadakiss recently told Hot 97 FM’s DJ Envy that The Lox’s album will be coming out this summer: “I’m trying to drop The Lox album first, anytime between May and June,” said Kiss. As for his own solo disc, Kiss said: “Then I’m trying to come right behind that with a ‘Kiss album, if it goes well. If not, I may have to come first. I’m pushing for The Lox to come first because that project is almost finished.” “It’s crazy, son. It’s been like six years since we dropped a Lox album. So it was an experience we were waiting to do again. It’s interesting to see how the songs come out after all these years,” said Jadakiss about the group’s comeback. The biggest question on the lips of fans is “What label will the new Lox album be issued on?” Jada’s response? “That’s another interview. It’s almost squared away. The deal should be done by early next week.” Fingers crossed.
iHipHop Blog Team