Hell hath no fury like a man scorned. Just watch any Die Hard movie: piss off Bruce Willis and he’ll walk barefoot over broken glass just to punch you in the face. Think a happy man would shoot himself in the chest just so the bullet might hit the guy standing behind him too? There’s nothing quite like some well-placed rage to truly motivate a man. If they made a hip-hop version of Die Hard I’d be hard pressed to think of a better man to cast in the lead role than Joe Budden. The …
DJBooth Album Review
If they made a hip-hop version of Die Hard I’d be hard pressed to think of a better man to cast in the lead role than Joe Budden. The Jersey native’s once bright career has been on the verge of flat lining for years now, but somehow he keeps reloading his tongue, using his rhymes like bullets and fighting on.
The year was 2003 and it looked like Budden had finally made it. He had two hit songs on the radio, Pump It Up and Jump Off, and was happy soaking in his newfound fame and cash flow. Then came his sophomore album The Growth, a collection of songs that were apparently a little too grown for the radio-friendly label execs. After years of album release delays the man severed ties with Def Jam, and most notably Jay-Z, and set out to work the game on his own terms with a series of critically acclaimed Mood Muzik mixtapes. Yippee-ki-yay motherf***er.
Budden’s latest effort Mood Muzik 3: For Better of For Worse, finds him at the peak of his vengefully skilled MC glory. Hip-hop loves beef like a fat kid loves cake, and Roll Call will have the streets eating for weeks. When you’ve got nothing to lose you’ll say anything, and Budden does not hold back when it comes to his Def Jam history: “They ain’t really giving a f*** unless you Jeezy…just know that if you ain’t the president or Kanye, you won’t see the time of day.” He’s not the first artist to feel the greatest rapper alive
Budden used his label-free time to build up a MC resume that’s made him a favorite of underground heads nationwide. All Of Me should be required listening for any young rapper thinking a hit single’s going to solve all their problems: “I wanted the world to see I was for real with it, got a deal, couldn’t deal with it.” And that’s just the tip of the lyrical iceberg, Budden drops a novels worth of dope lines over seven minutes. Yeah that’s right, seven minutes. I would inevitably get distracted for a few minutes while listening to Mood Muzik, then slowly realize that amazingly Budden was still on the same verse. The knock on Budden is that for all the intricate wordplay his delivery can get repetitive, and that’s true to an extent, but that’s like complaining because your Bentley has a scratch; it’s still one of the best cars on the road. Family Reunion has Budden spitting his most dynamic, scorching verses on the album with Freeway-esque vocal intensity. The reunited family also includes longtime partners Ransom and Hitchcock, who more than hold their own, plus one of the better Fabolous verses in memory. Could Fab be deliberately dumbing down his raps for his more commercial-records? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Courage is about more than acting tough, it takes a real man to reveal the depths of his soul. Secrets shows Budden’s storytelling side as he relates the lives of three people tragically linked by their addictions to money, sex and drugs. Budden has a message, but he also understand the most powerful way to get it across is to interweave it into a dope story. If it’s a secret that he’s one of the best MCs in the game, it won’t be for long. It is that kind of fearless artistic drive that makes Mood Muzik 3 such a compelling mixtape; it’s the story of a man willing to make music or die trying, whether he gets rich or not.
Listen to More: Joe Budden Written by Nathan S.
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"New Jersey Drive ft. Redman" (2007)
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