Joe Budden: The IC Interview Part One

Joe Budden is easily one of Hip-Hop’s finest lyricists. He receives the adulation of countless fans that study his art via mixtapes or Internet leaks. He’s signed to one of the juggernauts of Hip-Hop, Def Jam. The New Jersey-bred MC has remained interesting through provocative, attention grabbing leaked records, but it’s still been over two years since his self-titled debut premiered. To make matters worse, Budden maintains, an early listening session for his second CD, The Growth, gave disappointed revelers only part of his vision.

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, Joe’s admirers could be considered lovesick stalkers. The Ill Community comprises the rapper’s most rabid supporters and they have persistent questions, continued comments, but mostly want to know what is going on with the man known as “the street’s No. 1 draftpick.” With that, AllHipHop.com gave one Joe Budden addict the unique opportunity to interview the rapper and in part 2 relays the queries of the community.

AllHipHop.com: Okay, so I’ve got Morlocks on the phone from the Ill Community. He posted a thread on the IC where he’s asked people to ask questions too, so what we gonna do is, basically—

Joe Budden: I just got off the IC, and I didn’t see that thread.

AllHipHop.com: It’s up there.

[Joe goes online, sees the thread. The interview begins.]

Morlocks: Yo. What up, Budden?

Joe Budden: Sup Morlocks.

AllHipHop.com: Okay, so first off, everybody on this wanted to know – what’s your situation man? Everybody’s waiting on the album. You had the listening party earlier in the year.

Joe Budden: That piece of s**t listenin’ party that you guys attended—but, anyway—nah, man, it’s the same thing with me. I’m in the studio every single day. I’m workin’ on somethin’, whatever that somethin’ is, whether it be a mixtape, whether it be an album, whether it be somebody else’s s**t, whether it be me helpin’—I’m been doin’ a lot lately. I’m doin’ a lot. I’m helping other artists.

AllHipHop.com: We heard you’re ghostwriting for some people…

Joe Budden: Yeah, yeah.

AllHipHop.com: People at Def Jam?

Joe Budden: Come on. That’s rule number of ghostwriting. That’s why it’s ghost.

Morlocks: So what are you writing for yourself lately? What are you working on?

Joe Budden: Well, I mean—I’m still workin’ on the album. I hate to say that. It just sounds so bland because that’s what artists will always say. I’m workin’ on an album, but I’m not gonna stop workin’ on my album until it’s on the shelves.

Morlocks: Why isn’t it on shelves yet?

Joe Budden: Well, I think that Def Jam, at one point, was moving forward as if the album were going to be released in August—which is why they had the meeting and invited [AllHipHop.com] up and a couple other people up to listen to some songs. But—no—me and the label actually had a conversation that [releasing the album] probably wasn’t the best thing to do. That’s why everything kinda got pushed back or moved back, which is why I wasn’t even at the meeting. I didn’t bring any of the music to the meeting, so they were really just workin’ with what they had, workin’ with the songs they had that were available to them. So, I really couldn’t be mad at ‘em for tryin’ to get things rollin’ and just tryin’ to be positive or do somethin’ positive, but it wasn’t the best thing to do at the end of the day.

Morlocks: Why did you feel it wasn’t the best time?

Joe Buden: Before the meeting they had—they put out “Gangsta Party” with Nate Dogg, and Jay was really big on that record, right? And I thought the record was pretty cool, and the record went out. And it was at 300 spins, but it stayed at 300 spins. It stayed around the 300 to 400 spin mark for about seven weeks. That must mean that was not time to come out, or that’s not the record to come out with. When I put a record out, I’m used to puttin’ records out on my own and the record doin’ what it does on its own and then the label comin’ in and doin’ what they have to do. That happened with “Focus”. That happened with “Pump it Up”. It happened with “Fire”. It happened with quite a few other records that I just sent out, and they would go onto all these spins and whatever have you. I never had a record go out and get 200, 300 spins and stay there. It’s either gonna add or it’s gonna minus.

Morlocks: Right. Do you think that the spins depend on the listenership or the work that the label does to push it?

Joe Budden: The spins depend on a few things. You let me tell it, the spins depend on the song. It depends on your relationships, and it depends on your label. But your label comes last. If I go in the studio right now, and I make a crazy record, I can go give it to DJ Enuff, and he can say, “Yo. This record is crazy,” but DJ Enuff, for some reason, might not fuck with Joe Budden, and he might not play it. That’s not the case. I’m just using his name for an example. Or I could have such a great relationship with DJ Enuff, and I go bring him a record, and he’ll play it off the strength of our relationship, and he won’t play it off the strength of the song. Or sometimes you have records that are crazy, and you give it to DJs that you fuck with, and then your label just won’t kick in in time. Not saying that that’s the case either, but the spins—it depends on quite a few things.

AllHipHop.com: It seems that without an album, your name stays very strong on the Internet. In fact, the Ill Community just posted a new song of yours called, “The Future” and fans are talking. What’s your take on the Internet?

Joe Budden: The Internet – it’s pretty funny, man. My whole thing with the Internet is: I just tried to go to what I thought was going to be the next outlet for music. Aside from that, I’m just on the Internet. So, I figure I’m on here so much—I’ve been on AllHipHop. I’m on my site. I’m on it so much, let me just f**kin’ start uppin’ some s**t and see what happens, and now it just has come to a point where I don’t even have to up s**t. S**t is just gettin’ leaked from all over the place. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s a bad thing. I did not want that “Future” song to be released just yet. Don’t ask me how that happened, but f**k it. I’m just grateful, and I’m appreciative that n***as still know. And I only do it—I go so hard—as of late, I’ve been goin’ a lot harder on some rap s**t.

Morlocks: What do you mean?

Joe Budden: I don’t know. I feel like if my debut album came out in 2003, we goin’ on 2006. And when that type of s**t starts happenin’, when you start seein’ that big of a gap in between albums, either people—either you start to worry, either people start to forget about you, or people just think you’re wack and you fell off—-which is what I normally say about people. I normally say, “Damn. This n***a fell the f**k off. He’s horrible now.” —where in my situation it’s the exact opposite. I’m not doin’ anything but gettin’ better in the meantime.

AllHipHop.com: Independents aren’t restricting artists like that. Did you ever think of leaving Def Jam?

Joe Budden: I thought about that, and LA Reid kept it 100 percent gangsta with me, and he was like, “Listen. If you wanna leave, then I’ll let you leave with your music. If you wanna stay, give us the game plan, and that’s what we’re gonna do.” So, at the end of the day, I f**k with LA Reid because he always keeps it 100 percent funky. He never sugarcoats shit. He tells you exactly what it is, and he told me what it was. He said, “I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know what direction to go in.” And all I could do was respect it, so at this point, nah, I’m not gonna leave. I’m not leavin’ Def Jam.

Morlocks: But didn’t you diss Def Jam in a song?

Joe Budden: Not that I know of. Or [if I did,] it wasn’t intentional. But for years—ever since I been signed, Def Jam has been sayin’ I dissed ‘em, but I don’t be thinkin’ I dissed anyone. But that—not only Def Jam. Other artists, radio people, rappers, everyone also thinks that Joe Budden is throwin’ a diss somewhere at somebody. That is never the case. I just happen to be one of the only rappers out there that are completely honest in music.

AllHipHop.com: This summer watched Young Gunz and Memphis Bleek come out. I’m not trying to speak badly about anybody at Def Jam or anything, but do you ever wonder if there’s a higher reason why you haven’t come out?

Joe Budden: Am I being blackballed, or does someone have a grudge against Joe Budden?

AllHipHop.com: Yeah.

Joe Budden: Maybe. I don’t know. I’m hearin’ all these rumors about people sayin’ that Jay-Z is dissin’ me on the new song with Biggie, but people just—I don’t pay any of that any mind. Do I know for a fact that Jay knows that I am a way above average MC? Yes. How? That’s not important, but I do know that. So, it bothers me. It gets to me. It frustrates me. Sometimes it’s disappointing, the hardships, but anything worth doing takes a little bit of time.

Morlocks: On the IC they had a thread—a Joe Budden appreciation thread that everybody was basically chimin’ in on how you were possibly, right now, the best—maybe not—maybe the best or, if not, the top couple best lyricists out currently, and I was sayin’—you basically kinda said it, but how frustrated does that make you knowin’ that you are better than or at least people’s perception of you is better than a lot of the guys that are comin’ out and gettin’ a push—major push on Def Jam, and you’re not comin’ out at all?

Joe Budden: It’s frustrating, like I said, but, on the same note, I do understand it. I read the s**t on the IC sometimes, and, unfortunately—I did a track called “Dumb Out”, and it was on the IC, and it was on quite a few other places. And a lot of people heard this track, and, basically, I just dumbed out for about six and a half, seven minutes. And the tri-state area, the people up here, or the Joe Budden fans that know that Joe Budden goes in when he wants to—we’re blessed, and we’re fortunate ‘cause we get to hear it. There’s some other n***as in Houston and St. Louis and a few other towns down that a way that ain’t really gonna check for Joe Budden “Dumb Out” when they see that because they’re just used to “Pump it Up”, and that may not be their cup of tea. And I don’t blame ‘em. It’s not my cup of tea either.

Morlocks: Right.

Joe Budden: I don’t listen to the radio and wanna hear all of this f**kin’—I don’t buy albums to hear n***as. But I do understand it. I understand why n***as put out the things they do. I know that Nelly will outspit a lot of these n***as that’s rappin’. I know that to be fact.

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