Mood Muzik 2 (Mixtape)

Artist: Joe BuddenTitle: Mood Muzik 2 (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Bill "Low-Key" Heinzelman

With no release date in sight for his anticipated sophomore album The Growth, Joe Budden said, "F**k it," and dropped an album in the disguise of a mixtape. While Mood Muzik 2 (Can It Get Any Worse?) is another mixtape release by Joey and DJ On-Point, don't be fooled. This is more or less a real album with new songs and original production. In fact, you can argue that Mood Muzik 2 is better than Budden's self-titled debut and most of the albums released in '05. It's that good and the reason why is because Joey sticks to what he does best. There are no commercial singles or songs for the ladies on Mood Muzik 2, only vintage introspective tales and lyrical clinics. This is what Joe Budden is known for and is the reason why he has acquired a strong backing of fans.

With no filler, Mood Muzik 2 is as cohesive an album…mixtape, you will find. The album straddles between the two sides of Joey perfectly. On the lyrical tip, "Dumb Out" is one of the best songs Jump-off has ever released. Over an epic and angelic Architechs beat, The King Of New Jerz goes off for six minutes straight. No gimmicks and no breaks - just straight lyrics. With more quotable lines than you can count, Joey shows why he is one of Hip-Hop's most underrated lyricists. "Get It Poppin'" finds Budden on the street tip, as he destroys the Soul Diggers' ferocious drums and sick string arrangement with lines like, "I had this bug-a-boo bitch, kept wanting me to romance her/Always poppin' up, I called her George Costanza/Spent some time with her, realized I couldn't stand her/So I logged her in my phone as you a fool if you answer."

While Joey continues to provide shining examples of his lyrical prowess, the real gems of Mood Muzik 2 come from his conceptual work on the album. As always, Jump-off opens up and lets us inside his world, no matter what the situation entails. The Ron Browz produced "Old School Mouse" finds Joe taking a chance by providing insight into his relationship with DJ Clue and Def Jam Records. Surprisingly, he states, "I don't want the fame no more, its fuckin' with me/Don't hear ‘Reasonable Doubt’ the same no more/I can't listen to ‘Blueprint’/Got a resentment toward Hov…don’t get me wrong, still I love Clue and Hov." Joey continues his meditative nature on "Stained." Over a soulful Scram Jones beat, Joe expresses his frustrations towards the music business by proclaiming, "So I do the club shit for the blind that can't see/You do write some substance and sometimes they can't read."

It's this honesty that allows his fans to connect with him on the level they do, as they come away feeling that they know who Joe Budden really is. It's not a gimmick and the listener realizes this. Instead of producing fabricated thug tales in hope of striking it rich or gaining street credibility, give Joe Budden credit for having the guts to put his private life in the public eye. With The Growth shelved indefinitely, who knows if Joe Budden will ever get another chance to right his wrongs at Def Jam. But with a mixtape that is better than most emcee's albums, we can only hope Def Jam is listening. Are you in that mood yet?