Joell Ortiz greets me in Brooklyn on a hot summer day donning a much slimmer physique, a smile and of course, his house slippers. It symbolizes not only the title of his third solo album but his state of mind, as he is undoubtedly at home in his music and himself. It’s been awhile since the Brooklyn native put out a solo project. He instead, has been busy focusing on being one quarter of Slaughterhouse. But as their recent tour wrapped, Joell found he had some time on his hands and a lot on his mind. He took to his pen to express what has changed over the last five years. ‘LLERO caught up with Joell Ortiz on the heels of the House Slippers release to find out why being Puerto Rican was his biggest obstacle as a rapper, what he still feels he has to prove as an artist and some advice for artists new to the game.
‘LL: Tell me about the new album, House Slippers. What can listeners expect?
Well I’ve grown a lot; I made some changes in my life. I have stopped drinking for the past two years, stopped smoking cigarettes and got on this health kick, trying to live a healthier life. That lifestyle came through my pen when I was approaching this album. So, you know you get more mature records this time around. I still have that raunchy, hood effect to me because that’s what shaped me as a person – that won’t leave. But I think both my day one fans and new fans will learn some things about me. You’ll find out a little more about Joell. There are records on there where I’m an adult. You’ll find out I’m a father and deal with real life situations as opposed to me thinking about it as a conceptual record. It’s a really introspective album but at the same time it doesn’t lose its pure effect – pure, raw me.
‘LL: It’s been awhile since you put out a solo project, you’ve been busy doing a lot with Slaughterhouse. Why now?
I’ve been doing a lot with Slaughterhouse and not enough of me. I’ve got a lot I want to get off my chest. The reason Slaughterhouse blew up is because of who we all are individually and when I say who I mean Joe Budden, Crooked I, Royce and myself. I miss approaching a record the way I would approach a record. I miss being all of a record instead of a piece, or a quarter or just an element – not to sound selfish. I just miss doing me. We had just come off the road from Total Slaughter and our next album is done already. I was just sitting around with beats and a pen and I was like I gotta talk about some things. It just went hand in hand. We sat with Neil Levine and he’s a fan and it was a good marriage. It happened organically. Everything that is going to happen from it will be organic.