Joe Budden: Padded Room (Album Review)

Joe Budden has his fans on the brink of insanity awaiting Padded Room. The composition had been pushed back from the fall of 2008 to the chagrin of his “internet soldiers,” loyalists that ride-n-die for the New Jersey rhyme animal. The Padded Room is here, but how crazy does Joe get with it?

“Now I Lay” provides a fast-paced intro to the album, but many will fast forward to the collaboration with The Game, “The Future.” The song presents an unholy alliance of sorts since these two were once embroiled in a huge rap beef. The results are impressive on a commercial level, but the core fan base may be disappointed. Both rappers are known to be lyrically superior to their peers so this euro-sounding song about girls may not bode well with the aggression-filled underground. However, with the right push, “The Future” could be a hit at radio – an issue that forecasts a creative dilemma for Budden.

This is Joe’s second release at retail in about six years, but it feels like a man that has an IV dripping success in the veins, not a pill-popping head case fit for a psychological examination. Joe has become a favorite of the hood paparazzi though the internet (joebuddentv.com), his voluptuous girlfriend and various social networks. Joe comes off like an exceptional talent in a pick up game on a court with lesser talent – it seems like he’s kind of toying around. There are a plethora of adequate songs (“In My Sleep,” “Don’t Make Me,” “Pray For Me”), but most don’t make the neck snap like the Prodigy diss “Blood On The Wall” does.

“Happy Holidays” is a terrible attempt at a radio song, and “Adrenaline” rocks, but the heavy metal joint is sorely out of place here. “I Couldn’t Help It” and “Do Tell” are very reminiscent of the Joe Budden that fans have rallied behind for the past six years. Certainly, a new song from Slaughterhouse (Joell Ortiz, Crooked I & Royce Da 5’9″) would have been appropriate with the positive energy surrounding the super group.

The idea of Joe Budden in a padded mental ward evokes the physical and mental struggle that it took to produce a second anticipated album. Followers know the struggle is there, but vibes don’t translate clearly on Padded Room. When you get to the songs, you will likely feel the struggle of a person trying to convince mainstreams consumers he’s worth their money and appease his core audience, which are basically two warring factions. When his first, self-titled CD dropped in ’03, we knew that his potential was vast, but Joe might have to pick a side to solidify his spot somewhere.

Perhaps Budden should have called this album The Growth, like his official second Def Jam album was meant to be. Padded Room shows expansion, but doesn’t top his album-like mixtape Mood Muzik 2 and certainly demonstrates how sane he is.

Reviewer’s Recommendation: scoop up the Halfway House, Joe Budden’s 2008 digital only album release.

Joe Budden – “Blood on the Wall”

Joe Budden – “I Couldn’t Help It”

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