Mellow and harmonious singing dance in the background. The band is playing together in a dimly lit hole in the wall while cigar smoke drifts to the ceiling. If I could direct Joell Ortiz’ video for Night Train, that’s what you’d be watching. Real life storytelling at its best along with head-nodding production and singing come together perfectly anytime that Joell Ortiz and Novel team up, and thankfully after Defying the Predictable the two have continued to collaborate, resulting in the beautiful dopeness you’re (hopefully) listening to now. Freestyle Series alum Novel provides the soulful chorus over the lush and soul drenched production work of G Tek, while Ortiz tells the story of an average man facing struggles in this world, a topic the Bodega bomber and former Aftermath artist knows only too well: “I hate the sound of that alarm clock / I gotta get myself up while it’s still dark.” They may be making music about hard times, but every day with a new Novel and Ortiz record is just a little bit easier. Fortunately, Ortiz’ struggle to put out his long-awaited Free Agent album ends in late November. YAOWA!