Mixtape Review: Joe Budden's "A Loose Quarter"
“You know some n*ggas never learn /
Some learn and never apply but wait /
Some apply but never teach /
My only right to preach? I spent time being each…”
A lot can be said for the turbulent years that Joe Budden has weathered up to this point. Due to him constantly being in the public eye and his unwavering approach to addressing issues head-on in his music, he’s oftentimes seen as an easy target to judge. However, it’s for that same exact reason that Budden’s fans connect with him; his honest music makes him just as relatable. With his resiliency in rap now more evident than ever, thanks to his emergence with Slaughterhouse and Shady Records, alongside his situation with VH1's "Love & Hip Hop" (yes, that’s really happening), Joe Budden drops A Loose Quarter, his gift to the fans that’s stuck with him through thick and thin. It’s truly reflected in the music as well; Joey opens up about his relationships, past and present, and puts it in a new light as he attempts to find closure in old situations while progressing into new ones.
Ironically, a huge segment of Joey’s fans liken his music to that of Mary J. Blige’s, thinking that the music is arguably more likely to take a hit in quality the happier he is. If that’s a worry in your mind, then you can discard that as Joe’s musical ability hasn’t declined in almost any way. From dismantling tracks alongside Ab-Soul (“Cut From A Different Cloth”) to giving up and coming rappers their respective spotlights (Trev Rich had a show-stealer on the “Dreams Interlude”, as well as Tsu-Surf’s verse on “Through My Eyes”), the lyrical aspect of the project is on full display.
As far as emotional appeal, that’s here in spades as well. From the emotional dealings of “Momma Said”, to “Off 2 The Races”, which deals with the lack of closure from his ex, Tahiry (she loved it, by the way), Joe has always had a painfully honest way of dealing with his situations. The interesting twist here is alluded to above; it’s not all negative as one would lead you to think, thanks to his current girl, Kaylin. He even touches on her personal situation for a couple of songs (notably on "More Of Me"), but although it’s nice to know the story behind it all, it doesn’t seem to quite fit as well as other featured songs here. Thankfully, he gets back into the pocket with Royce Da 5’9 and Kobe, as “All In My Head” is arguably the best track here.
Accompanied by great production from Cardiak, AraabMuzik, Darknight, 8 Bars, and others, and a hilarious skit from Mal and Emanny on “The Helmet”, Joe Budden does a good job of bearing his soul over production yet again. If this is an indication of things to come, his upcoming album may be one to have us talking for a long time. Granted, it may seem that Joey’s personal life goes through cycles, but if he’s the type to open up about them and be this effective, then that in itself sets him apart from most rappers. Combine that with the fact that he’s figured out a way to reinvent himself musically time and time again, and you have a character in Hip-Hop that’s needed in more ways than one.
Let’s just hope that his upcoming TV status doesn’t convince him to conform anytime soon… He’s made his come-up by being different, and it would be a sad tale to see him suddenly abandon the calling card that’s connected with his fans for so long.