What can I say about Joe Budden that angry ex-girlfriends, rabid fans, jealous emcees, drunken...
DJBooth Album Review
The more things change for the New Jersey “don’t you f**king dare bring up Pump It Up” rapper the more they stay the same. Beset with album delays for the better part of a decade, Budden’s next album, The Great Escape, remains as elusive as a greased pig….if hip-hop fans would slap their grandmothers to hear a greased pig. Thankfully he’s kept the mobs from rioting with his Mood Muzik mixtape series, a series that’s incredibly reached its fourth edition with A Turn for the Worse. For most rappers such infrequent projects would be a death sentence, but Budden is nothing if not a survivor, and he’s uniquely equipped for the long haul. No one crams more into every track than the Slaughterhouse alum, and Mood Muzik 4 is no different. Hell, by the time I’m done unraveling his latest opus I’ll probably have Detox and The Growth on repeat…as I fly around in my rocket pack.
In an interview Joe said that A Turn for the Worse would be “less dark” than previous entries, which is kind of like saying Lindsay Lohan is less coked-out than she was a year ago. It’s true, but it’s still not saying much. I mean, the project’s lead single is titled Black Cloud. In trademark fashion, Cloud finds Joe facing his inner demons head on, and doing so with a dramatic, vulnerable and intricately crafted flare. Seriously, who else could keep your attention based solely on the power of their words for six minutes? It’s a short list. The majority of MM4 is some variation on Black Cloud’s theme. The high energy has Joe taking shots at wack rappers, Role Reversal has him taking shots at absent parents over a stellar beat, and on 1000 Faces he’s got his rhymes locked and loaded for those who hurt him in ruined relationships (shame about the forced hard rock hook though). None of it’s enjoyable in the literal sense of the word, but it’s still excellent. In fact, I feel like he’s been making music like this for so long we’ve begun to take it for granted, so let’s take this opportunity to pause and recognize that Joe Budden is, at the very least, one of the greatest lyricists of all time (cue Kanye: “Of all time!”). Pause . There, do you have the proper amount of respect built up? Fantastic, let’s move on.
Luckily Budden seems to feel at least a small measure of hospitality and lightens up a shade when he’s got friends visiting, starting with the posse cut Remember the Titans. The more I hear it the more I’m convinced that Fabolous delivers the best verse - those punchlines are insane, even for him – but even with weak link Banks, Joe, Royce and Loso form a quartet that’s better than anyone, except Slaughterhouse. Dessert 4 Thought is easily the album’s lightest fare, the Marvin Gaye-esque jazz influence assures that, even if guests Styles P and Pusha T don’t pull any punches, with Joe leading the way. Of course, it’s not all giggles and cupcakes when guests stop by. Crooked I only manages to drive him even closer to the edge on the ironically drunken Sober Up, but even so, these outside intrusions are welcome breaks from the insular lyrical world Budden builds around himself.
It’s always hard to accurately judge Joe Budden. Even at his worst he’s still better than 99% of the hot garbage out there, and how much I’m feeling his music varies from day to day, and how much I feel like Fantasia-ing myself, so we’ll have to simply compare Mood Muzik 4 against his other work. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s almost impossible too. How do you compare and contrast the work of a madman? How about we just leave it at Joe Budden is a force of rap nature, and A Turn For the Worse is so strong old people and children should be evacuated from the area before it touches down. Yeah, I like the sound of that.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 10/28/10
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"New Jersey Drive ft. Redman" (2007)
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