I am not a fan of a lot of producer centric albums with artists. There are often too many self-indulgent pieces based around the production, which I understand that it can be as much of an art as just crafting raps and bars but it can often be too over done in my opinion. Especially these more underground guys who end up making everything sound alike so though I am a fan of Joell Ortiz, I have some trepidation of the new album he has with producer Illmind "Human".
The album starts with a production intro with Joell talking about how he feels a need to explain more of his story, yet all of the projects he has put out are about this era before he was able to make it in rap so this is a bit redundant. The first song is "New Era" and the beat is a brooding looping piano riff as the basis with a heavy drum and bass line. The bars are solid as Joell talks about how real it is in the environment in which he grew up. "I Just Might" has Joell rapping about what he might just do that you can't because he's better or realer than you. It's another heavy track that almost seemed like it is born of the end of New Era.
"Light an L" is definitely a throwback NY style of track from the slow beat and as uncommercial as can be hook to the description of living in the roughest projects in New York. "Lil Piggies" has Joell switching up his delivery and at this point in the album it's a good idea cause the overall sounds are so much alike that it needs something to make it different. As far as the song itself Joell is sending warning shots to dudes who might talk slick. The best song to me is "Latino, Pt. 2" which has Emilio Rojas, Bodega Bamz, and the star, the raw and talented Chris Rivers, son of Pun.
"Who Woulda Knew" is the hard love life song on the album and "Bad Santa" is an interesting concept about fatherhood and the relationship with kids when there is is strife with the baby mother and touring and schedules can get in the way. Now "My Niggas" and "Six fo'" seem like wastes especially when there are only 10 tracks, 9 songs. They weren't really good enough and interesting to capture my attention.
The album is decent, it isn't as bad as it could be but the one thing I do fear is so much production being by one person trying to keep a unified sound or theme is everything kind of sounds alike. The drums on most of the songs are the same and the entire album is heavy mood wise when you listen to the production. There needs to be something else to freshen or liven up some parts of the record. The subject matter has been well trod as well like I said before with Joell handling most of these subject multiple times, maybe he is trying to get that era of his life perfect on wax and this isn't bad especially if you haven't kept the older albums in rotation.