“I’m coolin’,” Joe Budden says with serene honesty. It’s a phrase that may surprise some, as the New Jersey emcee and one quarter of Slaughterhouse is more known for his intense, visceral rhymes, as well as a colorful persona who has taken full advantage of the limitless public self-expression that Twitter and Instagram has to offer. And yet, with a decade of experience in an industry that is anything but, Budden has finally found a personal state of calm. That growth will inevitably be reflected in his new music, and with two projects coming out in succession, Joey sure does have a lot of say.
HipHopDX caught up with him recently to discuss his new mixtape A Loose Quarter coming out this Black Friday, a project that he feels is a must-listen for Budden fans old and new. He also delved into the direction behind his album No Love Lost (which is mixed, mastered, and ready for a January 22 release), and why he considers Drake as one of the premier artists in Hip Hop.
Joe Budden Discusses Transition From Mid 2000s To Slaughterhouse
HipHopDX: I want to begin with a quote of yours from a few years back that I feel resonates with your career right now. You said, “The alternate route is a long one, but eventually it gets you to the exact same destination.” From label politics, public altercations with rappers and personal relationships that catch headlines, you’ve remained resilient throughout. How would you describe your journey up to this point?
Joe Budden: Aww shit…Exhausting. [Laughs] It’s exhausting, but it’s been positive. It’s been a long uphill battle, but that quote really has resonated for me; it’s still true to this day. I’m by far not where I’d like to end up, but hard work pays off, so I just gotta keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing.
DX: Some of that hard work also includes Slaughterhouse. We’ve had a few months to let welcome to: OUR HOUSE marinate. Between that and the self-titled debut, what kind of growth, whether musically or personal, did you guys have as a group?
Joe Budden: The interesting part is I think the growth happened most after [welcome to: OUR HOUSE]. The process in doing it was much different than the first one, it wasn’t typical Slaughterhouse fashion. But I think the growth happened after the release coincidentally. We all got rid of the drugs, some of us went on diets, some of us stopped drinking, some of us got our family affairs together. We’re really just talking about men helping each other be men here. It really happened after the release of the album, so I can’t wait to hear the music that we come up with going forth.
DX: With that album, from a musical standpoint, a lot of the Slaughterhouse diehard fans gravitated toward tracks like “Coffin” and “Hammer Dance” where you guys are just going in lyrically. However, I still feel myself favoring tracks like “Goodbye” or “Rescue Me” which are records that complete the groups’ lyrical depth. Is there a particular record on the album that you prefer, or is it more so the mood that you’re in?
Joe Budden: It’s a mood thing. It’s always a mood thing with me. I fought hard for “The Other Side.” That was the one record that no matter what the issue may have been, I would have been very vocal had it not been on the deluxe edition at least. And I’m glad that it did make it, it’s one of those records that the fans really enjoy. It’s a real introspective record and me, Joell [Ortiz] and Royce [Da 5’9”] really went in on that record. No Crooked I on it, but everybody couldn’t be on everything. But that one is special to me.
DX: You talked about how you were looking forward to the music you guys will be making in the future. However, I reckon a Slaughterhouse album in 2013 is probably at this point a nonfactor considering you guys basically just put out two projects back-to-back. Of course you guys have your own individual careers in motion. With that said, have you guys discussed an appropriate time to collectively hit the booth again?
Joe Budden: We haven’t all discussed it, but me and Royce talk about it. I wouldn’t mind coming right back. I wouldn’t want to just abandon something you hold dear for so long. We did the first album in a matter of six days. We took our time with the album, then we turned around and did the [On The House] in a matter of two weeks. That’s the thing about Slaughterhouse, we’re extremely capable of turning around high quality music in a short period of time, and some people would probably say we work better that way.
DX: Speaking of work ethic, and moving to your solo work, A Loose Quarter is due out Black Friday (November 23) and you’ve recently released two tracks in “More Of Me” and “Momma Said,” the latter record being an open letter to your mom about your life’s current status. Has she had a chance to hear that record yet, and if so, how did she react?
Joe Budden: Naw, I’m not sure that she’s heard it yet. [Laughs] She’s waiting to hear it though, I don’t think she’s been in front of the computer yet. Me and my mom are really really close. We speak about everything; she’s like a best friend to me. And she gives it to me raw, no chaser, kind of the same way I give it to the fans with my music. That conversation was an interesting one. I had to fade it because the song could have went on forever.
DX: Yeah, the record trails off. Can I presume that there’s a part two in the wings?
Joe Budden: You can presume it. [Laughs] I don’t know if that’s going to make it factual. It is an idea that I’m toying with.
DX: You’ve built a solid relationship with the likes of J. Cardim, The Klasix, Scram Jones and more recently Cardiak and Beewirks, with those two latter producers doing “More Of Me” and “Momma Said,” respectively. Who else can we expect to hear on the production side for A Loose Quarter?
Joe Budden: Interestingly enough, the same producers that are on my mixtape are the same ones that produced for my album. It’s a short list of Beewirks, Cardiak, araabMUZIK, gentlemen by the name of Dark Night and 8 Bars, Blessed By The Beats. SLV did some production. And the mixtape flows, I almost didn’t want to put “Momma Said” out because it flows so smoothly on the mixtape. Like every song, every transition is perfect just the way it is. And you know, the "Momma Said" record fades with "Momma said that Tahiry called" on the mixtape and then goes directly into a song called "Off To The Races," which is a Lana Del Rey sample. And that entire song is more or less another open letter to…Naw, some of that shall remain anonymous. [Laughs] But it flows smoothly.
DX: [Laughs] When it comes out I’m sure we’ll all know then.
Joe Budden: Exactly.
DX: You’ve already announced that A Loose Quarter will be the mixtape of the year, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a competitive individual such as yourself. Not to put anybody under the bus because there’s obviously been a lot of good mixtapes that have come out this year, but what mixtapes are you beating out? Essentially what I’m asking is what mixtapes were you feeling, that you’re now going to jump over?
Joe Budden: I wouldn’t know. Honestly, I try to only focus on me and what I’m doing and the music that I’m making. I got a lot of good friends that are putting mixtapes out too. Wale’s putting a mixtape out, Fabolous is putting a mixtape out, French Montana is putting a mixtape out. There seems to be like a flood of mixtapes coming and the fans want it, so it’s just a lot of great music. But personally, there’s not another rapper in the game that attacks the music the way that I do as far as from a personal standpoint. And I think that’s how I developed my fan base too throughout the years and how they’ve been so loyal. So for the people that enjoy that, and I think that number is rising, this should be a special one for them.
DX: You talk about having a loyal fan base, and that’s a way you could also describe Lupe Fiasco and his followers. Back in mid-September you reached out to him via Twitter asking if he wanted to work together. Obviously you guys have a musical past that dates back to Tha’ Rayne’s “Didn’t You Know” record. Has anything come of that inquiry from you?
Joe Budden: Not at all. I haven’t heard from him.
DX: Okay. But is that a possibility though? Do you guys walk in the same circle of friends and associates?
Joe Budden: Naw, I wouldn’t say that. The type of guy I am, I just want to rap with all the guys that are heralded. They’re people that I listen to and they’re people that I feel are cut from a different cloth on the microphone. I don’t think Michael Jordan, not comparing myself to Jordan, but I don’t think he’d want to go to the playground and play three-on-three with 12-year-olds. It wouldn’t be fun.
DX: [Laughs] Very true. Similarly you scrapped a features project last year, but you also said that those records would be released at some point. Blu, Phonte, Emilio Rojas, is any of that coming on A Loose Quarter?
Joe Budden: None of those are on the mixtape. Honestly, that project, I was so excited about it, and I’d still like to put some of those records out eventually. I would want to reach back out to those artists though, and at least give them a chance to re-do their verse if they wanted to because it’s been so long and life started happening. I didn’t expect to be so full throttle the way that I am at this moment.
Joe Budden Discusses No Love Lost
DX: You mention being full throttle, and you’re going straight from A Loose Quarter to the album No Love Lost due out early 2013. The title and its meaning could probably go many different directions. Are you referencing anything specifically with that title?
Joe Budden: Yeah. For me, it’s been a long, long journey. I’ve met a lot of people, some I’ve pissed off. I’ve been public about some things, I’ve been immature, I’ve been a dickhead, and some people have been those things to me. The title just symbolizes being in a real state of happiness. I don’t have any malice toward anyone, no grudges, just being in a real pain-free type of state. I wouldn’t say free of pain, but a different type of pain. It’s like a new Joe Budden.
I was on Twitter just looking at rappers going back and forth with each other, and I was reflecting like, the old Joe Budden would have jumped right into the mix. I would have said something, I would have dissed somebody. I would fall into it rather quickly back in the day for whatever reason, and today I just don’t have the time to do all that. I don’t have any beef with anybody. If someone has a beef with me then that’s something that they’ll have to wear. I’m coolin’.
DX: Would you say that’s because of some type of personal revelation, or have you found a good spot in your life where you feel mature enough to act that way?
Joe Budden: Yeah, I think it comes along with maturity. Definitely a growth. You get older and the things that matter are the things that matter. The things that don’t, just don’t. I don’t really have the energy to waste on bullshit, so I don’t.
DX: The first record from the album is “She Don’t Put It Down Like You,” and it has a regular vibe that Budden fans can appreciate but it also has a respectable side of it that can expand the Joe Budden brand. Earlier you mentioned the same producers who did the mixtape are on the album, but would you describe the album as similar to the mixtape? Or is it going in a different direction?
Joe Budden: It’s similarly as far as it’s extremely musical. Very musical, it’s got a lot of instrumentation. The content, I wouldn’t say that that’s neck in neck, but shit, all my content is pretty to the point and graphic, just open. Whatever the emotion is, it’s all mood music of some sort. Not the mixtape Mood Muzik, but it’s all made with some type of mood, and it’s all really good music. Hats off to all the producers that were on the mixtape that contributed toward the album. We’re busting our ass, and they’re busting their ass.
Joe Budden Talks Knowing Drake Dating Back To Before So Far Gone
DX: Speaking of music that has a mood, a photo of you and Drake surfaced a while back, and you could describe his music in a similar fashion. Care to elaborate on that?
Joe Budden: Well, we smoked some hookah, had a good time.
DX: I remember the interview you did with him a few years back on Joe Budden TV. Seemed like you guys had a good chemistry on camera, I figured maybe that could be moved to the studio.
Joe Budden: Drake is one of those guys that can rap on any type of beat. And he’s extremely successful today, so I’m not in a particular rush to have that happen. It will happen when God sees fit. But that would be a good one. We’ve had many conversations outside of music, dating back to way before So Far Gone even came out. I don’t know what type of record to do with Drake though. There’s been a few times on this album where I felt Drake would sound good on it. But again, he sounds good on so many different things, so it’s hard to peg it.
DX: You’ve said you basically have the album set as to who you want to work with, but there’s one producer that was an integral part of your career early on in Just Blaze. Have you guys had any recent conversations about possibly doing records together? It seems like you guys are cool now, and there was never really any issues aside from that one track for Mood Muzik 4.
Joe Budden: [Laughs] Yeah, “Stuck In The Moment.” You never know. There’s no issues with me and Just [Blaze] at all. I saw him when I was playing this Eminem show in New York, and we always talk about it. But Just is really really busy, and I never chase anybody for music. Again, I’m a man with an extreme amount of faith, so my take is it’ll happen when it’s time to happen.
DX: Definitely. Right now you’re currently on the road for “The Second First Impression” tour. Do you consider performing an extension of your work in the booth, or is it a whole other animal that you have to conquer?
Joe Budden: It’s a whole other animal, only because your fans are directly in front of your face. When you’re in the booth, it’s just you alone. Performing, they’re right in front of you and looking at you and you have to give them all your energy. It’s a lot more that goes into it, just like there’s a lot more that goes into making a record than just rhymes. But they’re both two elements that I enjoy tremendously.
DX: Now before we go, I had a few loose questions to close with, here’s the first one. Love & Hip Hop, Joe Budden, it’s a match made in heaven. In fact, I’m surprised they didn’t come to you for your own show. Are you still being mum on the details?
Joe Budden: I mean, there’s nothing to be mum about. I’m on the show. How much, I don’t know because of this thing called editing. However, it should be interesting, and I’m excited. The one thing I always said was that I wouldn’t ever compromise who I am for a reality TV show. They approached me about it before and I turned it down. This time it’s real. I don’t even have anything to worry about. People talk about that show and they talk about the buffoonery and all this other shit. I’m not worried about none of that shit. I’m on there acting like I act. [Laughs]
DX: “My real name my Rap shit.”
Joe Budden: Yeah, yeah. And you know what, I don’t think many people know very much about my brain and the way that it works outside of music. So it’ll be interesting.
DX: This will be their chance to get the full Joe Budden.
Joe Budden: Yeah. Hate it or love it, but it’s happening. [Laughs]
DX: [Laughs] Alright, let’s end on this question here. “Session One,” will we ever hear that verse?
Joe Budden: Naw.
DX: You don’t think it’s worth it?
Joe Budden: Not at all. I’ve probably took different parts of that verse and spread it all out. Maybe we’ve already heard it. But in full? Not at all.