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Rkulture.com is excited to present the introduction to our new exclusive feature known as ‘Health iN Hip-Hop’. With the demand, lifestyle and grueling schedule hip-hop artist’s now must endure, more are adopting a healthier approach to preserve their well-being and longevity. It goes without question that being healthy in 2014 is “in” and we are happy to have spoken with Shady/Slaughterhouse affiliate Joell Ortiz about his transformation.

How have you been as of late?

I’ve been good. Feeling good. Working hard and loving it. This is probably the healthiest I’ve been since playing high School basketball!

What’s the energy like in studio right now with you guys gearing up for the new SH album?

This healthy energy has made its way to the recording booth as well. I’m so excited about what you guys will be hearing in the near future from me on both the SlaughterHouse new album and my solo LP. I’m just in one of those zones!

Has the recording process changed from WTOH to this album?

Recording from the last SlaughterHouse album to this one hasn’t changed much. We’re still that assembly line of destruction! Recording in one room, writing in another, listening to beats in the lounge area etc.

Were you happy with Welcome to our House album and how it was received by fans and critics? 

I wasn’t disappointed at all from our 1st release under Shady. WTOH was a good album. Maybe not what our core audience wanted to hear from us, but still a good album. Recording this next album has been crazy. We’ve been sharing our assembly line with a SlaughterHouse of producers! Executive produced by Just Blaze, and music contributions from Aarab Muzik, ILL Mindz, Kardiak, and Justice League have put our production on another level! Can’t wait for you guys to hear it.

Since joining forces with Shady, have you and Dr Dre ever discussed the past and the “what if’s” if  things would have panned out with your aftermath deal? ‎

Dr Dre and I remain cool. We always kick it when we bump into each other. He knows the respect I have for him as a musician and as a person. He was the 1st person to ever sign me and give a Puerto Rican MC from Brooklyn a chance. I will always love him for that. We don’t speak much about the past, just celebrate the present, and plan for the future. He’s a good dude and my friend.

Ever since Trinidad James made those comments in regards to the south “running” New York musically, there seems to be a sense of camaraderie among NY artists making more “New York” type of music…Do feel this to be true?

Trinidad James’ comment came and went in my opinion. I have felt like there’s been a certain energy in the air out here though… Let’s see. I’ve NEVER strayed away from that traditional NY sound because it’s what I am and what I love to do. People will get large doses of BROOKLYN in my next solo LP. There’s no place like home, and I’m right at home on this new album.

2 songs that stand out to me (off the top) from a solo perspective and as a group. “Keep on calling” w/ Akon and “Goodbye” from welcome to our house. Very personal songs. Do you find it hard or easier to speak on subjects so personal?‎

Whenever I do personal records/verses they’re not very hard to create. Since the story I’m telling is so in front of me, I just turn the picture into words. These performances become so therapeutic to me when I listen back. They always evoke emotion and make me Thank God even more that I’m blessed to have escaped these hurts, and hurdled the obstacles in my life.

Are you liking some of the young cats coming up making noise from New York like ASAP, Pro Era, Troy Ave etc?

I hear some of the new cats coming up out here. Some are nice, some aren’t. That’s just my opinion. I support them all though. I’m happy that everyone is succeeding in chasing their dreams! A lot of us come from poverty. Hip Hop helped us escape. Keep grinding.

Any chance of a slaughterhouse/Black Hippy super collaboration?

A Slaughterhouse/Black Hippy collaboration has been spoken about so much! I feel like fans, peers, and the artists involved want this to happen. So why not…??? Let’s see!

You’ve put out a lot of material at this point in your career…what’s next for Joell Ortiz as an artist aside from Slaughterhouse?

Next venture for Joell Ortiz is a solo album. A much needed solo album! It’s been a while. Running around the world for a few years with SlaughterHouse and this health transformation in the last year and a half has been taking up all my time. But I’ve MADE TIME to record for ME and it’s well on its way to being my best work! STAY TUNED!

The Transformation…

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In 2012 you decided to change your life. What sparked the change health wise and physically?

On Sep 3rd 2012 I woke up hung-over, overweight, and low spirited. That was just a normal day in the neighborhood of my life. But that morning I looked in the mirror and said “Enough is enough”. THAT DAY, I quit smoking cigarettes, quit drinking and began training. It was ROUGH in the beginning. Going cold turkey is a hard way to kick habits, but for me, it was the only way. God helped me through it though. I’ve shredded a ton of weight and have been on such a natural high! It’s awesome.

With touring, how do you find the challenge of eating healthy while being on road?

Eating healthy on the road isn’t as easy as it is to do at home. But when you’re dedicated, you’re dedicated. No excuses. I find those healthy meals in the most unhealthy environments. Even McDonalds makes a salad!

What challenges have you faced since starting this lifestyle change?  Any temptations?

This lifestyle change has gotten easier to adjust to in time. At first, I couldn’t hang out with my friends because I felt boring. Alcohol had become a part of personality. It loosened me up. But it got easier as time passed… I even take a shot, or have a glass of wine ONCE IN A BLUE MOON because I have it totally under control and have reached my weight loss target/goal. Cigarettes although, will NEVER be a part of my life again. They did nothing for me. Horrible habit.

Many other artists have preached a healthy lifestyle (LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Game, Lil Cease etc) do you feel any obligation now to remain this way and reach out to others who may be battling weight issues or overall health issues? 

I made this change for me and only me. I don’t feel “obligated” to keep it up for anyone else but me. That’s the thing about these life changes, they won’t occur untilYOU, the person, is ready to make that change. I’m happy that my healthy transformation has inspired some people to lose weight and get healthy, but I’m not about to be the guy out here preaching. No one will do this until they’re ready to do this. I don’t care WHO is in their ear. Believe me. But I will say this, the grass is greener on the healthy side of life.

What are your eating habits and workout routine like? How do you balance your Health iN Hip-Hop? 

Every day I wake up I hit the gym. Start out with a cardio exercise and then I either weight train or do calisthenics. Nothing crazy, just DAILY. That’s what works in the workout field, Consistency. As far as my diet, I just watch my carbs and try not to eat late. That’s it. No magic (lol). Being that I start my day with my workout, it doesn’t interrupt the rest of my life. Studio, shows, and other work rarely occurs at 5-7 am (lol)

Are you taking any supplements?

Not really big on supplements. I’m more of a natural guy. I take my vitamins and that’s about it.

Understanding the demand of your own career and seeing the dedication it takes in the gym and in the kitchen, has your perception changed about the scrutiny pro athletes face when the issue comes up about them turning to performance enhancement drugs to maintain health and a certain level of performance?

Pro athletes doing performance enhancement drugs have probably been around for a looooongggg time. It’s just become more popular. Do I feel like it’s fair to the other athletes who excel naturally? No. But do I crucify the guys that are trying to be the best they can be by using these enhancement drugs? No. I just hope that they’re careful and safe. I mean, if u wanna get technical, there’s probably some over the counter stuff doing more damaging things to your body… I salute the athletes doing things naturally though! That’s that natural God given talent. No better supplement!

Working out and just being healthy in general mentally changes people, usually for the better, do you find it changing you as an artist as well?

Healthy living has definitely changed the way I write and record music. Everything is much clearer. I hear the music better and I see the direction of the record in HD. I have new stories to tell, and black and white stories that I’m seeing on color now! This new solo album of mine is fun, personal, gritty, and celebratory. That’s who Joell Ortiz is.

What’s your favorite workout music?

I hear a lot of people saying they enjoy listening to pumped up music when they work out. I do the exact opposite. I listen to soothing R&B. I get so into those records that time just flies by! No matter how long you’ve been doing it, or how proud you are of the results, working out is still working out. It’s tough. I choose to listen to the music that will get me through it the easiest.

What’s your favorite healthy meal? And what is your ultimate cheat day consist of?

My favorite healthy meal is baked salmon, spinach, and Portobello mushrooms. I could eat that every day if you left it up to me (hahaha). I love fish and vegetables. My ultimate cheat day is BAD! I have my mom make me her famous Lasagne! I have her swop out the ground beef with lean ground turkey, if that helps….Lol. YAOWAAAA

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