Hip-Hop Wired: You have a few tracks laden with R&B. You spliced them in between more solid songs, so to speak. Was that your way of giving an inch to popular culture?

Joell Ortiz: On this album, I was going to do whatever I wanted to do because I felt comfortable. When I record music, I never ever ever think about where it’s going or who it’s for or why this or that. If it feels good, I lay it down. If it gets my pen moving, I write it and record it. Some stuff makes the cut, some doesn’t. But whatever feels good as a collective in the studio, I go with.

This time around, it was more like ‘oh, this is funky. It’s a little poppy, but I like it.’ I took chances, but none that sacrificed or compromised who I am. I was just talking about different things, on different music. I’m happy. Those records have been received really well, especially at the shows. Sh*t – my mom likes these new songs [laughs]. So, I don’t care.

Hip-Hop Wired: Haha, nice.

“Brothers Keeper.” Talk a little bit about that song. How did it come about, what was it like recording it?

Joell Ortiz: “Brothers Keepers” was awesome. Shout out to Slaughterhouse, my brothers for real, man. I love those guys. They’ve been really supportive with my album and solo career. And I’ll reciprocate that love moving forward.

I basically just called the guys up and told them I couldn’t put out a solo album without featuring them. I didn’t want to put too much thought into it or try to come up with something conceptual, the “never been done” thing. I just wanted something real, organic. I told them to say whatever they felt –– about the group or an individual. Something real, tangible, that when people hear it they go ‘oh, these dudes are not just rap partners, they’re really brothers.’

Royce chose to talk about his sobriety and why he did it not only for himself, but for the betterment of the group. Crook made it a point to say that this music was just the start of our friendship, and whether or not it pans out, it won’t signal an end to our friendship. And Joe responded to what I said in my verse. I was apologizing for how I had handled something in the past between him and Wu-Tang. He chose to respond back saying love is love.

Hip-Hop Wired: Amazing.

When is the next Total Slaughter rap battle and who would you want to go against?

Joell Ortiz: We’re not sure. We’re in talks with it now. In moving forward, we’re trying to figure out exactly what we want to do. Everybody under the sun wants me to battle [laughs]. I’m considering it. I haven’t said yes, I haven’t said no. And it’s not about money or anything like that. It would just be something I feel I want to do. It’s definitely not something any one of us needs to do.

I’d definitely want to battle someone who is in the music game as well as a recording artist.

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