Kxng Crooked Joell Ortiz

For the second time this year, Kxng Crooked and Joell Ortiz have delivered a brutal barfest, this time dropping the monstrous 24-track project ‘Harbor City Season One’. Crook and Joell have always brought the best out of each other through their H.A.R.D project in 2020 and earlier this year in the controversial ‘Rise and Fall of Slaughterhouse’ and there is no taking to foot off the gas with their latest collaborative effort. ‘Harbor City Season One’ is street-rap cinema – both emcees who have a natural talent and ability for crafting poignant story-telling tales, bounce off of one another in a brilliantly executed album. Complete with skits that tie the overall tales together, you press play on this and you’re immersed from the jump. Much like ‘A Prince Among Thieves’ or other similar concepts, this album follows a journey which could easily be adapted for a movie, video game, or as Ortiz describes it “an audio drama series” with the ex-Slaughterhouse emcees as the main characters.

Before you read too much further, let me just explain that you won’t find any real Slaughterhouse references or drama on this joint. They’ve clearly addressed that issue and have moved on when making this album. What you WILL find, are two emcees that are at the top of their game and who have a chemistry and respect for each other that very few hip hop duos can match. The way the flows intertwine with each other, the seamless collaboration, the cohesiveness of a project of such length – these are all elements that need to be highlighted in the creation of this musical art piece. It’s not just the ability to paint pictures with their prose, but it’s the authenticity of their flow, the vibrancy in their vernacular and the ferocity with which the music hits you all up in the headphones.

When you have two dope rappers tearing each track up, you don’t need much in the way of features, BUT I have to take the time to mention just how good the AZ feature on ‘Vibrate Higher’ is, and how well he complements Crook and Ortiz. I’d be more than happy if they brought him into the fold more often, and without ‘reforming’ the doomed SH supergroup, teaming up with AZ and potentially a cat like Ras Kass could make for some interesting music. But I digress….. Crook and Joell hold this album down from start to finish with their uncanny ability to create different flows and styles to represent different elements and songs within this series to keep it interesting and engaging.

Shoutout has to also go to the Heatmakerz for giving us some really dope and diverse production which allows these two artists to shine but also continues to push the album concept forward with the soundtrack constantly ebbing and flowing, building suspense and flat out knocking your socks off throughout the hour long audio experience. The way they don’t just bring the beats strictly from the boom bap pocket is what allows the album to breathe, keeping it fresh, funky and embodying the east / west coast vibes and styles each emcee brings to the booth.

Bangers: Vibrate Higher, Community Center, Welcome to Harbor City, Holy Water, Dead Body.

Score: 9 / 10. Another top tier project from these two, continually finding a way to deliver dope hip hop differently. The concept is first class and delivered really well and the beats get the head nodding and speakers thumping. Lyrically I have always enjoyed the depth of pen on display from Crook and Joell and these tales are robust and meaty and worthy of multiple plays. The project is a sit and listen joint, but you can still pull out a handful of bangers and just enjoy them in isolation and STILL get that stankface on.

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About The Author

By Brutus Maximus

Founder of Raw Side Hip Hop. Been rocking with the hip hop culture for over 30 years. Love the creativity, authenticity of the art and the culture as a whole. Shout out to the real ones making and supporting true hip hip and the artists who make it!