Joe Budden: Battlecry

posted October 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 48 comments

New Jersey native Joe Budden is a warrior. Hes had no choice but to be. Whether doing battle with his former label, Def Jam, and its previous president, Jay-Z, over the fate of what proved to be his ill-fated, and eventually shelved sophomore release, The Growth. Or being drawn in to combat with a seemingly never-ending list of Hip Hop adversaries over a laundry list of alleged grievances, "Jump Off Joe" has soldiered forward amidst varying degrees of chaos.

Thankfully for his fans, Budden has successfully battled against the anonymity that usually besets an artist without a formal album release in 5 years. His critically-acclaimed, three installment deep, Mood Muzik mixtape series keeping his name in the mouths of all fans of conceptually and lyrically excellent Hip Hop while patiently waiting for a formal album release from raps favorite underdog.

But the King of New Jerz cant be on the music industry battlefield without occasionally tripping a landmine, and after finally severing ties with Def Jam and signing late last year with independent digital label, Amalgam, to release that follow-up to his 2003 self-titled debut, his planned second full-length was once again pushed back, forcing Joe to rush back into the studio to compile a new collection of songs to tide over his starving supporters.

In anticipation of the October 28th release of that new collection, Halfway House, the prequel to his long-delayed second full-length, Padded Room, HipHopDX was granted an exclusive interview with Joe Budden. In addition to discussing his album-before-the-album, Joe also broke down the origins and status of the various beefs that have seemed to engulf his career. While clearly war weary, Budden still offered up a surprisingly sharp analysis of his past and present conflicts with Jay-Z, The Game, Saigon, Prodigy, Royce Da 59, Unk (and maybe most surprisingly producer extraordinaire 9th Wonder), as well as an internal battle between the commercial artist still striving for a limelight that may no longer be attainable and the emotionally-charged everyman who shuns shine to put his life between the pages lines.

HipHopDX: Wanna hit you with a couple loose questions to start. First, Treach from Naughty By Nature [click to read], Wise Intelligent from Poor Righteous Teachers, or Redman, whos the greatest emcee to ever come out of New Jersey?
Joe Budden:
HmmmIm going with Treach.

DX: Any particular reason?
Joe Budden:
Uh, well, he came first, number one. And number two, he was able to maintain his lyricism and still have commercial success. I think he did a better job of that than Redman.

DX: And the second loose question I have is in regards to a line you spit on When Thugs Cry: Dont wanna lose my wiz/Beggin her to do this bid/Not jail, but this music shit. Is being in the music biz really comparable to doing a bid?
Joe Budden:
Uh, I think its comparable in some aspects. I mean, of course not literally. Youre not in jail. You have freedom. But, only but so much freedom. So, in some aspects its comparable.

DX: Now, before we get to the 87 battles youre currently engaged in, was just wondering if you could do me a favor and just talk greasy about Jay-Z for a minute so I can use that quote for the tagline of this piece? [Laughs]
Joe Budden:
[Laughs] Yeah, thats basically what happens [with my interviews]. I dont have anything to say about Jay-Z [click to read].

DX: So Talk 2 Em
[click to listen] from Mood Muzik 3 [click to read], was that the last time you plan to even speak on that whole situation?
Joe Budden:
I didnt even plan on that. I really didnt plan that at all. Like, the pen went that way and I didnt stop it. But yeah, those days are over for me. Im so far past anything that happened with my previous label.

DX: Well, I wish we could just talk about your music and not all the drama surrounding it, but unfortunately whether its Jay, Game
Joe Budden:
Oh I know its your job, you gotta do it.

DX: [Laughs]
Joe Budden:
I know the people like gossip and shit. Im sorry, this wont be too good of an interview, Joe Budden is friends with everybody.

DX: Oh okay.
Joe Budden:
Well maybe people are not friends with me, I dont know.

DX: Okay, well lets start with possibly one thats not. Have you and Royce Da 59 finally had that conversation you stated you wanted [click to read]?
Joe Budden: No, I havent spoken to Royce.

DX: So as of today (October 9, 2008) do you have any plans to respond to his shot at you on Im Nice unless he takes another shot at you?
Joe Budden:
No, not at all. I mean, I pretty much said everything that I wanted to say in regards to the whole Royce situation in my last blog. I have an ultimate amount of respect for Royce as an emcee. But you know, I mean theres only but so long I can let people drag my name through the mud without responding, retaliating. And the only reason I havent responded to Royce is because I respect him so much. And because I said something about him first, so Im not gonna be the guy that can dish it but cant take it. But like I said, I have nothing but an enormous amount of respect for him. [But] I havent had a conversation with him as of yet.

Writer's Note: On October 14th, five days after this interview was conducted, Joe Budden released the following statement to HipHopDX: "Me and Royce just had a conversation. That track ["Slaughterhouse"] [click to listen] was put together in two days, I respect his work as a lyricist. That stupid back and forth beef shit between us didn't even come up when me and Royce spokewe had more important things to discuss." - Joe Budden

DX: Yeah, I think most people wanna hear you on a track together with each other, not going against each other.
Joe Budden:
Yeah, yeah, that whole [beef] thing is kind of corny. I dont really look to go at people. Like, Id much rather try to make this music and get some paper than invest energy in that.

DX: Well lets clarify that because when it comes to another potential foe, Prodigy, you said theres no real beef between you and he even after Blood On The Wall [click to view]. But if that song wasnt a diss, what is it?
Joe Budden:
It was the truth! I think if you talk to any Hip Hop fan, unless theyre some type of Prodigy [click to read] stan, theyre gonna say the same thing. Prodigy is well past his prime. Like, the majority of people have no idea what the fuck this guy even talks about anymore. I mean, what did I say that was so far fetched? The guy is sick. When you see him he looks sick. Hes in jail. So obviously he has some life issues that are not together with himself. And he wants to waste time doing blogs talking about every other rapper in the world [click to read]. I dont get it. And this is what I mean, Im not for the bullshit. Im not for rappers doing things just to try to promote or endorse beef to try to get they name or they buzz out there. Im not with that. I dont do it. Get buzz off your bars.

DX: Well lets speak on that because another one of your current detractors, Saigon, suggested in a recent interview with DJ Envy that name-dropping other artists in your rhymes and basically baiting them into battle is your whole shtick. Are you worried at all that these different disses might look to some like a gimmick?
Joe Budden:
But thats not true. I have no doubt in my mind that I rap better than the majority of the rappers. That is a fact to me. Thats not even an opinion. So for me to try to bait other emcees, especially the emcees that were naming, cmon Saigon [click to read]. Like, hes got his lane. He makes the music that he makes. Hes got his own little fan base. But can Saigon out rap Joe Budden bar-for-bar? Hell no! So I mean, cmon man, thats just bullshit. Thats something that he tells himself.

DX: Well I think he suggests that cause you took the first shot at him on Rap City, correct?
Joe Budden:
It wasnt a shot! We live in the same exact world. We can access the same websites. Everybody in the universe seen the same [fight on] Youtube, even Mobb Deep. I said it, and now you mad that I said what everyone saw? And then still didnt even diss you about it? Like, whos to say I wouldnt have done the same thing [during the fight]? I just happened to not be in that predicament. So I mean, I didnt play the nigga. But here comes macho machismo man and has a point to prove: Oh Im gonna beat him up when I see him. No you not! But let me just say thats not a current beef with me. Like I said at the beginning of this interview, I have no problem with Royce, Saigon, Hov, nobody do I have [a problem with]. Prodigy, I personally dont have an issue with any of these people. These people may have had some issues with me, [but] I dont give a fuck.

DX: Well thats the thing, cause it seems like you do only to the extent that in that clip with you and Game out in Cali you sounded like you take these Youtube diss clips personally. And I think most people just are like who gives a shit really?
Joe Budden:
No, if somebody getsif somebody goes on andif somebody credible or worthwhile, or that I think would be worth responding to gets on Youtube and starts dragging my name through the mud, Im gonna respond. I am. I definitely am. But like, everything else Like a little while back DJ Unk was on Atlanta radio dragging my name through the mud cause he thought I called him a fuck nigga. I dont talk like that. Thats some south slang. I dont know nothing about that. But I understood that the nigga thought that I said that and had to respond. But cmon, am I responding to DJ Unk? Like, how does that make me look?

DX: So I mentioned that Game clip, and it's well-documented now that you guys have reconciled [click to read]. You're filming together and performing together [click to view], but have you guys been recording together?
Joe Budden:
No. We been trying to make it happen on several occasions but our schedules conflicted.

DX: But there are plans to try to get into the studio together?
Joe Budden:
I mean, we wanted to try and do some mixtape shit together for Nu Jerzey Devil. But like I said, his album had come out around the time, [and] I was in the process of trying to complete two albums, so it hasn't had a chance to happen yet. But I'm sure it will one day.

DX: Well there's like a rumor circulating that he's gonna be on the new first single from Padded Room, any truth to that?
Joe Budden:
That rumor has nothing to do with me. I don't know how it got out, don't know how it got put out, don't know who put it out. But like, Padded Room is in a vault somewhere, that album. Like, it's not leaking. [Laughs] Niggas ain't heard it. I think that somebody more so just...with the way that everything took place - me going to perform with him, me going out to Cali just to hang out with the nigga for a minute [and] get up...You know, me and him had a pretty...our beef was more than rap. Some people don't know, like [with] me and him it was more so [like], "Damn, when I see this nigga what am I gonna have to do to him?" So before you get into making records together you need to iron some things out. And that's what we did.

DX: Now you said in a statement that Touch & Go [click to listen] will no longer be Padded Rooms first single, and that a better/bigger song will be. Can you give us any hints as to what that song will be?
Joe Budden:
Well that was the hint. [Laughs] I took [Touch & Go] off Padded Room [and put it on Halfway House] because I ended up making a record that in my opinion was bigger and better than Touch & Go.

DX: Is it better and bigger because of a guest, or because of production, anything?
Joe Budden:
No, no, you be trying, boy. [Laughs]

DX: [Laughs]
Joe Budden:
No, not at all. Its not bigger because of any guests. I think its just You know, Touch & Go was more local. This [new] record is bigger, just because of the way it turned out musically, and with the chorus. Its just a real nice record.

DX: I dont know how to really frame this, but I guess Im a hater so Ill just go ahead and say this to you direct that Im not as big a fan of Club Joey, I like introspective Regular Joe makes me feel better about how crappy my life is. [Laughs]
Joe Budden:
But you know what though? Im fortunate that youre even able to say that to me. Some people, they dont have a club side. For them to even attempt it is asinine, or blasphemous because you just dont picture hearing them that way. Me, I can do these deep joints, and I can do introspective records easier than probably anybody except foryeah, probably anybody! Im like Pac with them shits. Like them shits just come out the pen. I mean, I dont mean to compare myself to him, but thats how they come out. Like uhlets go back to Saigon, since he says I like to talk about people. You cant hear Saigon on a club record. You cant. I dont know if hell do one. I dont know if he can do one, but if he did do one you cant hear him on one. So Im glad for Pump It Up, and Fire, and Touch & Go, and Focus, because people stillwhen I come with that record that I actually like, that commercial record that catches on, its not gonna be so foreign to anybodys ear.

DX: Do you think Touch & Go [click to view] though, or tracks like that, are in any way a waste as an independent artist, where you know its gonna be almost impossible to get on BET and the radio anyway?
Joe Budden:
I dont think so. I dont think that at all. I think independents are the new majors. Thats how I feel. But no you gotta understand though, when I did Touch & Go it was likeI had no ideayou know, that was my first time being independent. So, Im new to the whole independent world. Im new to that universe, soyou know, I made a record We actually was in the studio bullshittin around and we liked how the record came out. And so did some other people that were around. So it was like a test run. I cant say that I made that record and was hype and I thought I had a #1 Billboard smash, nah thats not the case.

DX: Lets talk more about the release that song is now on, Halfway House. I really wish I could hear some of it to ask you questions specifically about it, but since I cant can you give our readers just an overall summary of what they should expect from this new album before the album?
Joe Budden:
I have no idea. I recorded the bulk of it in the span of like a week. And you know what? Dub-B [White Boy], who recorded the entire thing with me, he felt like it was better that way. He [calls] this my first Hip Hop album for some reason. I dont know why, but he does. He said it was better that way because we were able to record and not even have time to think about what the fuck we were recording. And it came out soundingit sounds good! It really does sound good. I impressed myself. And I probably overworked my brain. But I think the fans deserve [that], man.

DX: Can you elaborate on the sound and the content at all? Is it anything like Mood Muzik 3?
Joe Budden:
No, no, no, no, this is more sofor me, I like to categorize it as ridin music, which Joe Budden doesnt have too much of. Most of my music, you would never know whos a Joe Budden fan because Joe Budden music is not meant for you to get in the car and turn it up all the way with the windows down. Like, my music is more so to actually listen to. This album I can turn it up. I been jammin! So Im pleased.

DX: Can you tell me how many Just Blaze produced tracks there are on Halfway House?
Joe Budden:
None.

DX: [Laughs] Are you ever gonna be on some A-list producers tracks again?
Joe Budden:
Uh, only time will tell. You know what? There was a period of time when I was running to all of these A-list producers and hearing a bunch of bullshit. But the price was never bullshit. Im going to seeand I mean, trust me, I wanna do it just as bad as fans want me to do it. But at the end of the day Im not gonna sacrifice the quality of the music. Like, Im not gonna fuck with somebody just for namesake. If you dont have crack, then you dont have crack. And a lot of these guys didnt have crack at the time. Maybe when they did have crack they felt like they didnt wanna give it to Joe Budden. Maybe they wanted to give it to somebody else. Maybe I got the B-folder. I mean, I dont know. But, I have to go with the people who are down for me and what Im doing, and the people who wanna give me good music. And that hasnt been A-list producers.

DX: I guess my only personal critique is Id like to hear you on a more diverse bed of sounds. Like possibly I know cost-wise its hard more sample-driven stuff. I know The Klasix gave you a couple joints on MM3 that were sample-driven. Id just like to hear you on a different grouping of sounds.
Joe Budden:
Well so would I. I think its challenging for myself. But like, it was one point I reached out to 9th Wonder [click to read]. He didnt return any phone call. But hes a nigga thatll fuckin smile and dap you up in your face. So I mean a lot of these niggas is real phony, man. Id rather stick with my fuckin Scram Jones, Ron Browz, thats probably about as A-list as Joe Budden is gonna get. Or Im gonna try to find the A-list niggas before they become A-list.

DX: And, I dont know where I read or heard this but youre supposedly already working on Mood Muzik 4, right?
Joe Budden:
Let me clarify that. When Padded Room was complete before there was the idea of a Big Mike mixtape, before there was a Halfway House idea I started recording joints for MM4. In the process of [recording for that] Who part 1-3 came out. No More Innocent Hearts featuring Heartbreak [click to listen] came out. Like, some music came out [because] I just hit the lab immediately. But then I stopped. I left it alone. I normally do that with Mood Muzik. Ill start when Im in the mood, then Ill just leave it alone. So [Mood Muzik 4] is nowhere near being complete. I dont wanna have the fans thinking something that isnt.

DX: Well I think were all just hungry for as much as we can get cause its still likeyou know when Padded Room got pushed back again it was like, Oh shit. Its starting to look like youre never gonna put out your sophomore album, ever.
Joe Budden:
Well, no. But at the end of the day I have to do whats best for Joe Budden, man. And pushing it back was what was best for Joe Budden. But still I love the fans, and I care about the fans. And I know that theyre hungry for some new music, which is why Halfway House will be out.

DX: And I just have one final, very important, question in regards to your powerful expose on the current state of the game, Who [click to listen]. Is it really true that the fans dont pick the videos on 106? I just thought the fans knew to all vote so a song could conveniently be the #1 video the same week that artists album drops. [Laughs]
Joe Budden: [Laughs] Yeah son, some people think that shit. [Laughs] Some people unfortunately do think that. And I mean, I didnt say that to try to blow up the spot or anything. But I mean like, common sense sometimes really is not common.

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