To those that know Joe Budden, he has truly one of the most complex rapper narratives in Hip-Hop. He takes you along for rides you may know all too well, and shows you things you might not have otherwise looked into. Whether or not youve ever lived in the hood, the themes in a Budden rap are universal to us as human beings. Like a Tupac or a Jean Grae, JB is a best friend that you never knew you had, who stays with you when your personal condition hits rock bottom.
Joe Budden and AllHipHop.com talk turkey and get deep as the New Jersey-based lyricist is on the fringe of his sophomore album. So for those that dont know Joe, welcome to a closer look at the soul of a man. For those that are closer to the emcee, get some answers and look deep within the soul and recent changes of one of your friends.
AllHipHop.com: Some of us finally got to hear the album. Did you attend your listening session?
Joe Budden: Nah, I didnt go. I wanted to get honest feedback. I didnt want people sugarcoating s**t cause I was in there.
AllHipHop.com: Lets talk about this joint Unforgiven. A couple people were really buzzing about that, calling it classic Budden material.
Joe Budden: Eh, Unforgiven, featuring Metallica. Its a dope track. The track is nuts. It jumps. Every other bar, the topic changes. Itll go from talking about me and my deranged thinking at points to talking about poverty to depression. Any hardcore Joe Budden fan knows that if theres one thing I do well, its vent and get introspective.
AllHipHop.com: Your debut was very personal. I love that lost quality in Hip-Hop. Its something thats now great about Masta Ace, great about Tupac, great about you. As you make these songs naming the women in your life, and your parents, and your friends, has success made rapping more or less personal for you?
Joe Budden: Ah! What a good question. More or less Im gonna go with more. More! Anything that Ive ever done and anything that I do now, anything that ever happens whether that be with a relationship with a female, or my relationship with my record label, or anything Im not ashamed of, and I dont have any problem sharing it with the people. With this fame and with this notoriety, I find it easier to share, and theres a lot more things to share than just the same s**t. With every new experience, theres a new struggle. And with every new struggle, theres a new song, for me.
AllHipHop.com: Ill give you two examples Both Eminem and Talib Kweli have been very personal MCs. But some have argued that their recent work took that personality out of the hands of fans, and made it more about more money, more problems. Youre so easy to relate to is that still true of this new album?
Joe Budden: Yeah, definitely. Im not at that point yet. Eminems first album sold about eight million, or some crazy s**t like that. I aint there. On a serious note, no youll still be able to relate to anything Im talkin bout. I think thats the difference with this album, as far as growth. On the first album, not that I was limited, but a lot of the tracks were deep and intense and introspective, and really all about me. This time around, for the people that couldnt relate to my stories or my struggle, I tried to put myself in another position or just put somebody elses shoes on and tell the story from that aspect. Throughout the album, theres a lot of talks of different s**t that happens in the hood or, I got a song on there talkin about child molestation, not that Ive ever been molested. But, it was a difficult verse to write.
AllHipHop.com: Thats taking a risk. Hip-Hop isnt always kind to that. People dont seem to have much of a heart with Bizzy Bone and that right now. Why did you put it on the line, in a way, to go there?
Joe Budden: Its a risk, but its a reality in my hood anyway, and Im from Jersey City. Of course in every neighborhood, youve got your dope dealers, and your pushers, and your number runners, and your stick-up kids. Underneath all of that, theres kids gettin molested, theres teachers raping kids, theres crazy s**t goin on. Its a reality, not my reality, but of a few people I know. The s**t happens, it happens a lot, and nobodys shedding any attention on it.
AllHipHop.com: How have you felt the impact since Jay-Z moved into the big office at Def Jam?
Joe Budden: [Ive] just gotta get used to new methods up here. I love Kevin [Liles] and Lyor [Cohen], and I am so grateful to them for everything theyve ever done for me. But, I always thought that Kevs ear was a little rusty. Now, youve got Jay up here, who I think is one of the greatest rappers of all times. As far as a businessman, I dont know. Time will have to tell. Right now, hes doing a great job. Hes very serious about it. I respect him for that. How the outcome will be of that? I cant tell.
AllHipHop.com: When you handed Jay the album, and he heard it end-to-end first, can I ask you what his analysis was?
Joe Budden: To be honest, I was towards the end of the album by the time he got here. It wasnt too much that he could say. He gave his input with a few of the songs he helped me out with my Swizz record, Aint F**king With Me, and he helped me with my Timbaland record. Those were probably the last two records that I did. He gave input and suggestions. He basically told me the same s**t that I knew already, he told me I get busy. It meant a lot coming from him. But I dont need a n***a to tell me I can rap.
AllHipHop.com: My favorite line you ever spit, and its simple, but on Calm Down, you said, Ive got my mothers sensitivity, and my fathers balls. Give me an example of each.
Joe Budden: Ow, man! What a good question! S**t! Im so used to these boring-ass kids let me see here. You know what? F**k it! Lets do it. To simplify it, I was a little teary-eyed watching Armageddon and Remember the Titans. Im just trying to find the simplest way to explain this. And, as far as the fathers balls line, that means, dont get the mothers sensitivity part f**ked up- because itll go down.
AllHipHop.com: Both of your parents are still around, right?
Joe Budden: Yupp, Pops still around, Ma still around. Im blessed.
AllHipHop.com: You alluded to death being around any corner on the first album. Do you still feel that today, that death is reachable, soon?
Joe Budden: Ehhh. I do actually. Thats one of those coming up as a teen, I always with depression. That depression would have me feeling like I could do something to myself. As I got a record deal, it wasnt so much a fear of me doing something to myself, but it was a fear of somebody, maybe even somebody Im close to, doing something to me. Its definitely still a feeling. I had a string of events that happened that led me to believe I wouldnt live to see 25 or 26. Coming up, I felt like I wouldnt live to see 21. Now, its eased up a little bit. But that thought it always in the back of my head.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned depression. Lets keep it Jersey do you choose to deal with depression the Tony Soprano way, or just sort the laundry out yourself?
Joe Budden: [laughs] I did the whole psychiatrist therapy talk s**t, and it helped a lot. But I mean, its always been music. The reason that so many people love music so much and the reason that its such a successful business is because its therapeutic in some type of way whether n***as know it or not. Even when I was in therapy, and I was writing as therapy, motherf**kers thought I was crazy for the s**t I was writing. They didnt see it as a way of help. But even still to this day, thats what it is for me. Aside from the fun, the fame, the ladies, its therapeutic. At the end of the day, it helps.
AllHipHop.com: What can we, as Joe Budden fans and a true audience do to convince A&Rs to make your singles the personal records and NOT these party songs?
Joe Budden: Yeah man! What the f**k! These n***gas, you know what it is, man? I think when you start getting into the business aspect of it, I think that the A&Rs and the executives are so concerned with the casual listeners. Thats where I think the problem lies. I swear to you, this Unforgiven song that you were talking about, I pushed for that to be the first single to Kevin Liles when he was here. It wouldnt fly. He wasnt trying to hear that s**t at all. Jay is on some other s**t. Hes on some be creative s**t. I think you might see that, soon.