Joell Ortiz & Kxng Crooked Rap About The Fall Of Slaughterhouse
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As supergroups continue to excite Hip-Hop fans, it is hard to forget the importance of Slaughterhouse. A decade ago, the collective of Royce 5’9, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Kxng Crooked was at work on their sophomore album (and first on Shady Records), welcome to: Our House and corresponding mixtape On The House. Released in the summer of 2012, that album, executive produced by Eminem, would reach #2 on the charts. It was a momentous affair for four top-tier lyricists who had been deemed industry outcasts at past points in their careers. However, as history showed, the moment would not last.
In the later 2010s, as Slaughterhouse began work on a third album, the crew disbanded. Joe Budden pivoted his career to a full-time media personality, whose views and opinions eventually clashed with Eminem. Amid a Grammy-nominated solo album run, Royce created another supergroup, PRhyme, alongside DJ Premier. Joell and Kxng Crooked also advanced their prolific solo careers. Nickel and Crook also took stabs as media personalities in the video and podcast space.
On a new song, the cleverly-titled “Vacancy,” Kxng Crooked and Joell Ortiz look back with reverie. The Brooklyn half of the duo raps first: “I remember we was on the road on one of them tours like hold on / We got the #1 album in the country and so on / They called us Voltron; Where did we go wrong? / We supposed to do this music sh*t for so long instead it’s so long / The house is vacant, yeah, Mouse / Is making that podcast money talking foul and flagrant / Right from his couch, I’m hating / Roycе’s Grammy-nom’ came without debating / The Allеgory is a wild creation / I’m happy you got to smell your flowers, baby / And Crook? Sh*t, Crook’s still out here being / Crook’ Got every rapper shook / Ain’t never used a book for a verse or hook / House Slippers, HUMAN, Mona Lisa, and Monday, H.A.R.D, Gorilla Glue / Yo Fred, we’ll laugh again one day.”
While acknowledging the death of Fred The Godson and listing his solo accolades, Ortiz is wistful for a special era in his career. But the focus is the House divided: “Slaughterhouse been apart like nine, yo / You asked why though, I wish I had them answers but I don’t / Just know that picture they’ll never resume / Emails, phone, calls and zoom / Still not enough to get us all in a room / Royce said he ain’t doing the three man without Joe / But Joe said he retired so how the hell it’s supposed to go? / I looked in the eyes of Crooked I and said one last time he said, ‘Let’s go’ / So this one’s for the fans and anyone else who wants to know / Why the best group ever / Turned out to be one of the best groups that never / Got back to the sun after the Shady era / Sh*t, Paul wasn’t on his best behavior / And Joe’s comments about Em left no Revival for major endeavors / So the gang dropped the flag got off the label / Back and forth drawn out lawyer to lawyer but today we’re able / To say we’re free but we ain’t eating at no round table.” In the verse, Joell affirms that he wanted to continue the group. Now a nemesis of Royce 5’9, Lupe Fiasco previously threw his hat in the ring to replace Budden—who encouraged others to do so.
In his part, Kxng Crooked maintains that energy. “I have to ask forgiveness / This might be sacrilegious / I don’t want to go back to business / I don’t wanna go back to biz back to the back and forth / 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 / Wasn’t a bad decision, trying to get back to the mission / Of actually winning in Rap again, ’cause all of us had the vision.” While attempting to rally the troops, Crooked I maintains a position in defense of Eminem and Shady Records: “To bonding with the group I became partial / He didn’t start the group he can’t end it don’t blame Marshall / He didn’t start the group he can’t end it don’t blame Paul / And fans been there from the beginning can’t blame y’all / Let me take some responsibility / I had the Hennessy feeling me willingly committing penalties / Mentally whenever liquor would enter me bringing the silliest energy.” Kxng Crooked I alludes to more chemistry with Joell: “Now Joell, it’s just him and me on our purple tape / Pride made the circle break.” Comparing their side group to Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, these frequent collaborators have an album arriving March 11. It has a controversial title, The Rise & Fall Of Slaughterhouse. The 13-track LP features production by Heatmakerz, DJ Pain 1, and Crooked’s former Death Row Records collaborator, Jim Gettum.
The song (and its music video) come with another visual, Fourclosure: Episode 1. The video, a play on words, finds Joell joining Crook and Circle Of Bosses in Southern California for a bite—deliberately some pork barbecue. Kxng Crooked says the meeting is to signify the death of Slaughterhouse, and the start of something new. Joell does a solid Joe Budden impersonation as the two MCs speculate how one of their former band-mates may react. The two men later sit in the studio to work on their album, The Rise & Fall Of Slaughterhouse, only to realize that it is the same lab where Em made The Marshall Mathers LP.
Online, Royce 5’9 and Joe Budden have each reacted to the song and album announcement. “You have 25% ownership/equity in a building,” Royce began in an Instagram caption. “Let’s say an apartment building… You built this building with your three partners, brick by brick.. It’s worth millions…Suddenly, the value drops because it needs renovations etc. You and your partners have been talking about when and how this work is gonna get done…Y’all just need to agree on plan of attack.” He continued, “Meanwhile: You and just one of the other partners receive an offer to build another building together but with just the two of you. Minus your other two partners… Yes… There’s a check involved.. BUT… Just One Catch: You have to burn down the building you already have without informing your other two partners in order to do so.” Royce ended the post with “Would you do it? Didn’t think so… Me either.” Joe wrote “SMH” on the IG post.
On the AFH playlist, listeners can also hear other songs involving Joell, Kxng Crooked, and Royce 5’9. There are also new songs by Conway The Machine, Fatlip & Blu, Curren$y & Alchemist, Big K.R.I.T., EarthGang, NEZ, Fly Anakin, and more.
#BonusBeat: A late 2021 What’s The Headline interview with Joell Ortiz: