Artist: Joe BuddenTitle: I’m Back (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Bill “Low-Key” Heinzelman
He may have sold the least, but Joe Budden has still managed to gain the respect of the Hip-hop industry. Even though his debut album did not move the units it expected to, the album displayed Joey’s introspective nature and conceptual talent with songs like “10 Minutes”, “Walk With Me”, and “Calm Down”. Now after a two-year hiatus, “jump off” Joe Budden’s latest mixtape I’m Back, is set to get the industry buzzing for his sophomore album The Growth. Hosted by DJ Envy, I’m Back delivers vintage Joe Budden in triple threat form. With a mix of party, street, and introspective songs, the release far exceeds what is usually expected of a mixtape.
The highlights of the I’m Back mixtape come from the variety of lyrical gem’s Joe provides. Over Juelz Santana’s street smash “Mic Check”, the self-proclaimed king of New Jerz proclaims, “I don’t even be going hard on this mixtapes and shit, I be doing like 50-60 percent, trying to save my energy for something important”. Joe then proceeds to kill it with lines like, “Joey back on that sublime shit, I’m Ted Danson nigga, that’s my bar and I’m standing behind it. I’ll be where you pump at, and no I ain’t the Dolphins, so you won’t get a chance to leave and come back”. Joe continues to rip off catchy one-liners on the Mary J. Blige classic “I Love You” (Re-titled “I Shine”) with, “Lately I’m feelin’ like Green, I don’t feel like being Shady no more”. Joe even takes Tony Yayo’s “So Seductive” and turns it into a lyrical clinic with punch lines like, “Play super human on some X-Man shit, but Pat Swayze the only dead man to live. So act up until he see his best man killed, now he pro-black on some X-Clan shit”.
Even though Joe Budden is known for his mixtape dominance, he is anything but a one-dimensional emcee. More proof of his conceptual talent comes with the amazing “So Long Goodbye”, which is another gem that fits perfectly with Joe’s other reflective songs. Over a gorgeous backdrop, complete with a soulful vocal sample, Joe gives a “guide” to all the up and coming rappers. As usual, Joe opens up to his fans, giving them the inside scoop on what its really like to be a rapper these days. Hopefully, “So Long Goodbye” finds its way on Joe’s album.
I’m Back is a satisfying hold over for Joe Budden fans until his official sophomore re-up The Growth. The only filler tracks on the mixtape include Joey’s appearance on Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl Remix”, and Marques Houston’s “12 O’clock”. In addition, The Growth’s lead single, “Gangsta Party” featuring Nate Dogg, finds Joe hooking up with Scott Storch for an attempt at a big commercial hit. However, Joe’s experimentation with a sensual flow has turned many fans away. Nevertheless, the I’m Back will please die hard Joe Budden fans, as well as casual ones.