Joell Ortiz & Illmind – human

I really wanted to enjoy this album, having stuck by Slaughterhouse through their disappointing albums on Shady Records, but “human” is another underwhelming effort from Joell Ortiz. The album is rife with superficial escapism, that undermines the proposed maturity and honesty that are words I’ve seen used to describe this record by reputable websites. The theme is primitive in both nature and execution, in that Joell is at his least relate-able – it’s difficult to feel apathetic, or in fact anything towards what Joell is saying. There’s even a noticeable lack of the trademark self-deprecating humour.

Two standout tracks happen to be the most intense listens: “Lil Piggies” being an all-out attack on current emcees without naming anybody specific, and “Latino Pt. 2” an alternative take on the Slaughterhouse line-up with Bodega Bamz, Emilio Rojas and Chris Rivers combining effectively. It’s hard not to mention Big Punisher (considering Chris Rivers is his son) but the way Pun’s son decimates a beat is eerily similar without sounding copycat. He’s done well to drop the “Baby Pun” moniker and establish himself as his own artist.

The braggodocious nature of Slaughterhouse records suits Joell, and it’s inevitably trickled through on to his more recent albums. Joell’s earlier material remains more human than anything on “human”, and the trap-infused production from Illmind (!llmind) never really meshes with the rhymes. In that respect, “human” ends up being another unremarkable album from a New York heavyweight emcee, that is admirable for trying something a little different without really achieving anything new.

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