Album Review | Joell Ortiz – Mona Lisa

This album was released on October 26th this year. Joell Ortiz actually dropped an album back in 2016 called That’s Hip Hop, but pretty much nobody talked about it. His collaboration with !llmind back in 2015 was pretty well received. I remember liking that project a lot. I’ve heard a couple of singles from this album, which were pretty good. Joell Ortiz is a really good rapper, so I think I’m gonna like this project a lot. All the beats are done by Apollo Brown, so this should be dope.


Tracklist

1. Brushstrokes
2. Reflection
3. My Block
4. Cocaine Fingertips
5. Grace of God featuring DJ Los
6. That Place
7. Word…
8. Decisions
9. Timberlan’d Up featuring Royce da 5’9″
10. Come Back Home
11. Mona Lisa


The first track is just a short intro in which some guy compares making music to painting something beautiful. So that’s why the album’s named after Da Vinci’s most popular painting I guess. It’s a cool intro, but there’s really no reason to discuss it. The beat on the second track is really smooth. The first verse is great. He’s rapping about how he isn’t the most popular rapper because rappers who abuse substances are more popular than rappers who have substantive music. There’s really not anything I dislike about it. The beat is great. I even like the hook. The second verse is really dope too. It’s a really great song. It’s dope af to me. The beat on My Block is a little more uptempo than that of the previous track. It’s great. The two verses are dope. The hook is simplistic, but it works. It’s a dope track. The following song is fucking awesome though.

Cocaine Fingertips is definitely the best song up to this point on the album. I love the dark, cinematic sounding production. Joell rapped his ass off on both of the verses too. There’s not really any aspect of the song that I dislike. It’s dope af. I love the melodic beat on Grace of God, and the scratches from DJ Los are phenomenal. It’s one of the more emotional sounding tracks on the album. Joell raps more about his younger days. It’s a pretty good song. It’s not one of my favorite tracks, but it’s still enjoyable. I liked the instrumental outro. The piano driven beat on That Place is great. It’s one of the more emotional songs on the album so far lyrically. In the first verse, Joell describes losing one of his friends in the hospital. In the second verse he describes the birth of his son. So the place that the title is referring to is the hospital. It’s a pretty good song. It’s not one of my favorite tracks on the album, but it’s still dope. I fuck with it. Word… has a pretty solid beat. The two verses were cool, and I like the simplistic hook. It’s probably my least favorite song on the album so far though. It’s definitely not a bad track, but it just doesn’t stand out as much as the other tracks. It’s still good though. Decisions was the first single released from the album. It has a pretty similar structure to every other track on the album. There are two verses and a rapped hook. I really like the violin led production. I don’t really have much to say about the song though. It’s not that different from anything else on the album. I like it more than the track it follows, but it’s not one of my favorite tracks. It’s dope though. I feel pretty much the same way about Timberlan’d Up. The song samples a Nas line from Made You Look for the hook. The beat is pretty solid. Joell killed the first verse. Royce did his thing, but I think Joell had the better verse to be honest. I kinda wish the beat was a little less repetitive. That’s my only gripe with it though. It’s another dope track. I fuck with it. The sample based production on Come Back Home is pretty great. The two verses are really dope, and the simplistic hook isn’t bad either. It has the same formula as all the other tracks. It’s still a good song though. The instrumental outro is smooth as hell. The title track is definitely one of the best songs on the album. It’s just one long verse over a really great beat. It’s got a super simplistic structure. It’s the shortest full song on the album. It’s really good though. I have no problems with it. It’s dope.


This album is great. There’s not a single track on it that I thought was wack or even just average. It would’ve been nice if there was more variation in the way the songs were structured. This is just a collection of above average traditional Hip Hop songs. I don’t have any gripes with this project. There’s not really much to complain about. It’s just a bunch of dope verses over really good beats. It’s a dope album.

Favorite Song: Cocaine Fingertips
Least Favorite Song: Word…

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