Hip-Hop Wired: Of course.
Joell Ortiz: I got rid of those yucky feelings. When I went to record this album, I went in with a completely different mentality. It was a whole different mindset and feeling. I just felt so at home. Hence the title, House Slippers. For the first time I felt like I wasn’t leaving home to go to work, I was bringing my house into the studio. It was an amazing recording process.
Hip-Hop Wired: Congratulations, I commend you on that. And speaking of being at home, what’s it like being at Penalty?
Joell Ortiz: Penalty was great. Shouts to Neil Levine for giving House Slippers a home. It was only a one-album deal, however. So once again, Joell is a free agent [laughs]. I’m free to do what I want to do, but I love being like that. I love being non-committed; everything is always on my time. You know what I’m saying? However I wake up and however I’m feeling, I get it done according to that.
Don’t get it twisted, Neil and the guys over at Penalty would love to do another album. We debuted fifth in the country. It was great for an independent project. I’m not ruling them out as of yet. But right now, my obligation to the label is done and I could do what I want. I just feel good going into this winter and the holiday season.
Hip-Hop Wired: Is there a specific entity that you want to work with or a record label with which you want to collaborate?
Joell Ortiz: In a perfect world, I’d probably lock in with maybe one or two top producers and figure out the sound together. I’m not talking about where the album would live, I’m talking about recording the best album that we as a collective could record, with just two or three. And then figure out where we’re going to take it.
Hip-Hop Wired: Are you concerned at all about mainstream?
Joell Ortiz: I think “mainstream” and “underground” are just words for “a little bit known” and “more known” [laughs]. That’s all I associate those words with. People get it confused and think that underground and mainstream is different as far as finances go. And that’s so not the case. There are a bunch of underground artists that people have never heard of that are millionaires –– that would never give their brand to a major label, because it would just be another hand in their pocket.
We’re talking about a cult following. It’s tough to be mainstream. You’re either a really huge act, or you’re someone who’s fly by night. You have a dope record and then it fizzles out. Or you have something that was tediously worked on and then it blew up.
I say all that to say: when I record music, I go in with the intentions of recording the best stuff. I don’t cater to anyone except me. As long as I stay me, then my cult following will follow me. If a record catches and blows up, so be it. Me and my YAOWA army, that’s been following me for the last nine years, we blew up already. We’re on a main stage. But I won’t tailor a record to try and suit radio or what’s popular right now. I can only do what I do, as best as I can.