According to Brooklyn, New York rapper Joell Ortiz, his entire music career has been “a battle” due to his background and physical appearance. While speaking with Vlad TV, Joell revealed that he first had to deal with being labeled “nice for a Puerto Rican” as opposed to a nice emcee overall.
He says he then came to the realization that appearance was a quality that mattered in the music business.
“My whole career was a battle,” Joell Ortiz said. “I had to battle past ‘He’s nice for a Puerto Rican’…I’m proud to be Puerto Rican. Don’t get [me wrong]…Puerto Ricans have been a part of Hip Hop since Break. Come on, let’s be for real. But yeah, I had that little thing attached to me for a little while. And other things too outside of music that had nothing to do with—Things I didn’t know of, I wasn’t aware of in the music business that mattered. Like how you look. Or if you were thin.”
The Slaughterhouse lyricist continued to speak on the importance of appearance in the music industry, adding that it was a “discouraging” aspect of his career.
“It was discouraging though, Vlad. To be honest with you,” he said. “Because I wasn’t getting the opportunities for reasons outside of music. It wasn’t like I was going in meetings with these labels and they were going ‘Well, his music’s not that good. He’s kind of heavy. And he’s Spanish.’ It was like ‘His music’s amazing, but.’ It’s like ‘Wait a second. Play number four again. What are you talking about?’”
Joell later revealed that it was Dr. Dre who gave him his first record deal despite his appearance and background.
“Shout out to Dre for giving me my first official record deal, my first opportunity, and my first look inside,” the rapper said. “I was trying to get record deals with everybody on the East Coast. And my CD landed on his desk. And he called me. And he was like ‘I love the music.’”