Last week, hip hop artist Joell Ortiz stopped by the Full Sail campus and crashed the Introduction to Management class, giving Entertainment and Music Business majors an overview of his career.
Joell spoke about the struggles he faced as a new artist trying to get a record deal. “Executives and producers would say, ‘He’s a bit overweight. How are we going to market this guy? We can’t sell him to the ladies. He’s Latin, so should we focus on those markets rather than the hip hop market?’ Whereas I just wanted to be a rapper. The business hits you right in the face. You realize that you’ve got to separate yourself as an artist from the business immediately. I’m sure that’s one reason why some great artists don’t make it, because they quit at that point. The business part of it is really hard,” he said.
Speaking to the class, he urged them to be innovative when it comes to marketing. Because he didn’t fit the mold of what a typical hip hop artist looks like, Joell had to get creative when it came to showing labels that he could reach their demographic. He was one of the first hip hop artists to document the experience of making a record via blog.
His work paid off. He signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment label in 2007. The deal didn’t work out, however, and after putting out two solo albums in 2007 and 2011, Joell joined the hip hop group Slaughterhouse. Their album, Welcome to: Our House, was released on Eminem’s Shady Records in 2012. Now, a decade into his career, Joell has released his third album, House Slippers, which contains some of his most personal material yet.
“Embracing and capturing, and recognizing the now is important in music,” he said. “You’ve got to take pictures of your life through the music. That’s what it is, capturing the now.”
Joell was joined by his team, including his manager Dennis Wynn, Ethan Curtis of Plush Studios, and Jay Marcano, a Full Sail grad and local promoter. Joell said the experience of getting to speak to Full Sail Students was something he’s always wanted to do.
“I want to teach people about way more than music,” he said. “The experience of coming here today and just looking in the faces of kids who are figuring it out, there’s a beauty in that. The things we spoke about today, I hope they can influence at least one person.”