For me a Joe Budden released date has always been a red letter day. As soon as i press play i expect a serious tone with a melancholy sentiment, word play that deserves more recognition and one-liners that can leave an individual ruminating for a hot minute. Joe Budden is food for sanity in a industry that is money-grabbing, shallow and flooded with inordinate amounts of cliches and platitudes. It takes a specific type of intellect to be able to connect with Joe’s candid and often philosophical lyricism. It’s not that his music is abstruse in anyway - he’s far from Immortal Technique - but he certain demands a higher level of maturity and attention than your conventional vapid pop rappers. If you think ‘Pump It Up’ embodies the quintessential characteristics of Joe Budden then you are horribly mistaken and guilty of sleeping on him for way too long. Not that ‘Pump It Up’ isn’t dope for what it is, it’s just that everything Budden has brought out since his disharmonious split with Def Jam has been so much doper!
Perhaps being marginalised by Jay-Z and Def Jam was the best thing to ever happen to Joe Budden. Don’t get me wrong, i believe he could have easily forged himself a successful career in the commercial scene, such is his talent and presence, but at what price?. ‘The Growth’ is still on the shelf but Joe Budden continues to drop, seemingly with an insatiable appetite for releasing raw and often somber records. What would have been had he made it big, would that hunger have stood the test of time? From the outside he appears to be driven by bad experiences, anger, frustration, ambitions and regrets - all the ingredients necessary to construct a rapper capable of delivering parables worth listening to. I like that there isn’t anything pretty about his music, i like that his passion is tangible. Anyone who knows me understands why i anticipated ‘All Love Lost’ with excitement.
Overall the album is decent. I can leave it on and let it run. As expected the lyrics and concepts shine over mediocre production. That’s not to disrespect 8 Bars, Boi-1da or any other of the many producers who contributed to the project. It’s just to say that the beats serve their purpose well in setting the mood without being game-changing or distracting, allowing Budden to rightly take centre stage. Unsurprisingly the album has that traditional New York hip-hop feeling with a underground twist; long verses filled with gems alongside forgivably underwhelming hooks. On first impression it’s apparent he was haunted by relationship issues whilst writing the album, he made references to these relations frequently throughout and perhaps is the inspiration behind the title. Stand out tracks include ‘F‘Em All’, ‘I Love, I’m Good’, ‘Immortal’, 'Man Down', and ‘All Love Lost’. Food for thought, this isn’t a course that can be digested in one sitting, so i haven’t tried to. I’m sure i will keep returning to this album, each time taking something new from it - that’s the beauty of a Joe Budden album. Oh, how could i forget the Marsha and Jadakiss feature!?
The New Jersey rapper has come a long from Grammy nominees and Fast and Furious soundtrack features. The realist rapper alive? Possibly. If it’s not him then maybe someone else from Slaughterhouse, or maybe the aforementioned Immortal Technique. At the end of the day Joe does what many other rapper fail to do, and that’s connect with our deepest concerns and expectations. Debut album aside, Budden isn’t for the clubs, Budden’s for the mind.