At the age of 17, Ortiz made the decision to pass on both an academic and basketball scholarship to stay in Brooklyn. He was featured in the "Unsigned Hype" column of the March 2004 issue of The Source and was also selected as Chairman's Choice in XXL. During the same time Ortiz also went on to win the 2004 EA Sports Battle which earned his song "Mean Business" a spot on the NBA Live 2005 soundtrack. The same year he was offered a contract to Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label. The deal quickly soured, resulting in bad blood between Ortiz and Dupri. In 2007 he signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath record label. Joell has since collaborated with KRS-One and Kool G. Rap.
Though signed to Aftermath, Ortiz released his debut album, The Brick (Bodega Chronicles), April 24 2007 on Koch Records. The Brick features productions by Showbiz and The Alchemist, among others. Guest artists include Big Daddy Kane, Styles P, Big Noyd, Akon, Immortal Technique, Graph, and Ras Kass.
Ortiz also appeared on Smif-n-Wessun's The Album, on the song "Stomp". In October 2007 Ortiz appeared on DJ Emz's remix of "Leyendecker", a song by the math rock band Battles. He also appeared in the music video for the remixed version of DJ Khaled's "I'm So Hood".
Departure from Aftermath
Ortiz parted ways with Aftermath Records in early 2008. According to Ortiz, he asked to be released from his contract with Aftermath. Ortiz has stated that he will be coming out with a new album as soon as possible, and he will continue to work with Dr. Dre.
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