The former Slaughterhouse wordsmith Joell Ortiz teams up with Detroit super producer Apollo Brown and brings us a very introspective project called Mona Lisa. Now the first thing that really stands out about this project is how somber and sad it seems. You definitely get that vibe the whole way through the album. Joell does a fantastic job lyrically. There really aren’t too many MCs out there that are messing with Joell on the mic. But, you can hear the sadness and the intense thinking that is going on when he spits his bars. Apollo Brown is usually real rough and gritty with his old time samples and hard beats, but you can hear how somber his beats are to match Joell Ortiz on this one as well. On “Reflection” he tells us about where he is right now as an artist, how it is hard to navigate the music industry right now, and thoughts about where he actually stands. “That Place” is a fantastic and REAL track about how he hates going to the hospital because it is usually associated with death (sometimes life, but a lot of death and problems also). I think anyone out there can relate to this track which is what makes Joell so good. The highlight of the project is the collaboration with Royce Da 5’9″ on “Timberlan’d Up.” The beat is fantastic and both MCs do their thing on the mic. This is a dope project, but it will definitely make you sit back and think a bit.
OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Cheesesteaks
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