In real life, halfway houses serve as living centers for drug users and the mentally ill who are fresh from prison and other likely institutions. The troubled individuals housed there are monitored in order to properly reintegrate them back with normal society. Joe Budden can most certainly relate to that process.
Since his lukewarm 2003 self titled debut, Joe has been keeping his name afloat through mixtapes. Now on the cusp of reentering the commercial Rap world, Halfway House (Amalgam Digital) serves as the non-prequel prequel to his much hyped and often delayed sophomore effort The Padded Room.
After a rather superfluous intro, Joe gets right into it with On My Grind. Anchored by manic guitars, he sets a strong tempo with a barrage of bars wrapped around his unsettling drive. Overkill follows nicely with assistance from Heartbreak. Both New Jersey natives exercise a subtle delivery full of stinging battle raps over a quick three minutes of climatic production provided by Blastah Beatz.
On the soul sample laden Check Me Out, Joey finesses the track with his signature wit. While exploring his progressing maturity, he sneaks in a quick jab at Hip-Hops biggest name: They tell me tricking aint tricking if you got it, Ive never heard more false words spoken / So if I tell you Im going to leave your wrist frozen, I was either lying to you or just joking.
Collaborations are thin here but Budden did manage to pull in some big guns with Slaughterhouse. Featuring Joell Ortiz, Nino Bless, Royce Da 59 and Crooked I, all five emcees show no mercy to the up tempo Scram Jones beat. Fans of Buddens more moody musical offerings can look no further to Under The Sun and Just To Be Different.
As with any Jumpoff project, there are a couple of tracks that fall short of the mark. Aspirations of being embraced at radio once again are stopped short with Touch & Go. With lackluster production and a quirky voice chanting the hook, this could be likened to a poor mans Touch It. Additionally, tales of seducing females backed by less then impressive R&B vocals send One Night F*** right into the penalty box.
While Halfway House takes a slight dip from the high standards set forth by the Mood Musik series, it is still a respectable effort. Joe Budden proves that he is still one of the games best kept secrets regardless of a release date.
"On My Grind"
On My Grind - Joe BuddenJoe Budden Featuring Joell Ortiz, Nino Bless, Royce Da 5'9 and Crooked I"Slaughterhouse"