Joell Ortiz & KXNG CROOKED team up for a second coming of their resurgence in new album
H.A.R.D. is a hip hop super-duo consisting of Joell Ortiz & KXNG CROOKED. Both of whom have had notorious label issues at the start of their careers, but would go on to see success as members of the supergroup Slaughterhouse along with Royce da 5’9” & Joe Budden from the late 2000s up until the mid-2010s. The quartet had quietly disbanded in 2016 after Joe’s retirement from making music even though it wasn’t confirmed until 2 years later, but the other 3 members have been keeping themselves busy ever since. H.A.R.D. introduced themselves a couple months after the pandemic hit with an incredible eponymous debut EP along with 2 full-lengths last year: The Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse and Harbor City. But as the 1-year anniversary of their debut album approaches next month, they’re retuning with the 2nd EP.
“Take Time” is a triumphant opener to the EP about the dynamic duo’s return & that getting paid doesn’t make sense whereas “Dodgers” has a more psychedelic groove to it paying homage to the team’s current home on the west coast & their roots in the east. The song “Foe or Friend” hooks up a sample of “Hey, What’s That You Say” by Brother to Brother’s with some hi-hats saluting Hov while the penultimate track “Stay Dangerous” has a more symphonic quality to it with the title saying it all as far subject matter goes. “Blue Magic” however is a touching note to tie things up on from the production to the sincerity in their performances.
These guys have really been working nonstop as of late & I just wanna say although I’m well aware this is an EP, I think I like JFK2LAX a bit more than H.A.R.D.’s last album Harbor City by a small margin. Only a couple questionable production choices every here & there, but I genuinely appreciate how both parties give their flowers to each state that they came from with a chemistry as exciting as theirs is.