A Week’s Worth Album Review: KXNG Crooked & Joell Ortiz’s “Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse”

By Daniel Paiz

KXNG Crooked and Joell Ortiz’s Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse gets the focus for the newest installment of A Week’s Worth Album Review. Half of the Slaughterhouse lineup (Royce Da 5’9 and Joe Budden are the other two) reminisce and commiserate the ups and downs of a group that was poised to alter the direction of Hip-Hop. That might seem like some hyperbole. But had the potential come to realization, it isn’t a big stretch to say Rap groups might have a bigger impact today.

The House burns from within

Two studio albums, a smattering of mixtapes, and breaks here and there. Slaughterhouse was billed as a group that would break the internet. There were some decent tracks on Our House, and some classics from the self-titled debut. Each artist worked on solo projects, some collaborative efforts with other artists, etc. What’s confusing about what’s happening in 2022 for this group is what led to the creation of Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse.

The songs themselves give us a glimpse into how KXNG Crooked and Joell Ortiz apparently feel about the state of the group. Crooked appears to be zeroed in on blaming Joe Budden, while Ortiz appears to want to just rap and laments about how things couldn’t start up again. Royce and Budden clearly had a response when hearing about this project, and gave plenty of background insight of their own on what’s happened through the years:

Everything that’s happening right now outside of the music is disappointing from all sides. It makes sense Joell and Crook feel like they’ve been waiting forever. It also makes sense for Joe and Royce to question another record deal when it isn’t clear who will have ownership. There’s more to dig into in regard to the drama going on, but let’s get to the music itself.

The music that ignited the House fire

What might be the most disappointing thing about everything currently in flames is the music that lit this proverbial match. There are good songs on the tape; in particular, Vacancy spells out where Joell and Crooked are coming from, and why they decided to do this project. Below are the most relevant lines from the two on this topic:

Royce said he ain’t doing the three man without Joe

But Joe said he retired so how the hell this ‘posed to go?

I looked in the eyes of Crooked I

Said,” One last time?” He said, “Let’s go!”

-Joell Ortiz lines from his verse on Vacancy

The last deal I brought, that bag was different

Only thing I heard back was crickets

That was my answer, listen, never did lack persistence

I ain’t no mathematician but I see mad division

Couldn’t get past the friction (Facts!)

-KXNG Crooked section of his verse on Vacancy

There’s really not much to break down here, as the storytelling from both gives you their perspective on the group. This track is the first full song on the album and pulls no punches on advising listeners of what’s coming. Fukglasshouse and Still In My Feelings are likely two other tracks worth checking due to the rhymes dropped in each. Backstage in some ways feels like a sequel to Vacancy mood-wise.

The big lose-lose from this project is, it doesn’t feel like it should be 13 tracks, but it’s also hard to say a 5-track EP would’ve been better. The conciseness of an EP might’ve given each song more weight, but it also might’ve been glossed over more. There’s not really a good solution in terms of album length.

Final Verdict

As a fan of Hip-Hop, I very much enjoy hearing a Joell Ortiz and KXNG Crooked collaborative project. There are some decent songs, nothing overwhelmingly amazing. The two make a good duo and give fans a partial solution to an increasingly unlikely scenario of Slaughterhouse fully existing again.

With all four of these acts-Royce, Joell, Crooked and Budden, you know what you’re getting for the most part song-wise. Royce has probably shown the most growth over the past few years due to his increased vulnerability publicly. Crooked has stayed skillfully consistent, Joell has done the same but at times feels stagnant thematically. Fans and onlookers alike know Budden isn’t rapping. The podcasting life has treated him quite well, and it seems like rapping is something he’s not committed to getting back to for personal reasons.

It’s tragic the way things are going down amongst these four. It feels like there should have been additional conversations had in the past that have led to where things are now. The album that came about due to this turmoil is more of a cathartic release for Joell and Crooked. It’s worth a listen, but likely won’t win any best of lists this year. If you’re a Slaughterhouse fan like I’ve been, check it out.

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