Joe Budden: Returned Ransom Note
As he prepares to drop Mood Muzik 3 to expectant fans in December, Budden also discusses his long-awaited release from Def Jam, the mind state behind the mixtape, and his marketability in todays rap climate.
HipHopDX: Lets start off addressing the beef with Ransom. Is he still going to be on Mood Muzik 3?
Joe Budden: Yes, yeah, hell still be on there, whether he likes it or not.
DX: What was your motivation in putting him and Hitchcock back together on the same track?
JB: Well, I was more so putting their personal issues to the side for the good of the record. I felt like our camp had already lost one person, that being Stack Bundles, may he rest in peace. I just felt like frivolous nonsense shouldnt put a halt to great music. And I figured there were people out there that would like to hear him and Hitchcock on the same track together, even if they werent performing as the A-Team, that it wouldve been nice for certain people to hear. And it was; people enjoyed it.
DX: So why do you think Ransom was so offended by it?
JB: I dont know, that I dont know. I think maybe he might have had some issues with me prior too, and just used that as a scapegoat and a reason to start dissing me out of the blue. Either that, or he couldve really felt like I disrespected him or had some malicious intent towards him. That would be stupid, thats my man, but Lord knows some of the things that go on in these peoples heads.
DX: Its known that you helped put the A-Team on, but there are some conflicting stories coming out of the disses, with you saying [on Heart of the City] that you were ready to sign them but they went to Clue instead, and with Ransom saying you abandoned them after the success of Pump it Up. Whats the story behind that?
JB: You cant believe one word that comes out of their mouth. Thats a bull face lie. I havent abandoned anybody, not at all. What happened was me just making a foolish mistake due to thinking everybodys intentions are great like mine. When I met Ransom and Hitchcock and I had the idea of forming a group and putting them out, they were fucked up. They were starving and thirsty for a deal, niggas was hungry like every rapper is when they are unsigned. And then you start to bring them around, and they start to see things that they wouldnt normally see, and [they] start wanting to cut out the middle man. Thats the case in most business deals, so they felt like, Whats the point of signing to Joe if we can sign directly to Clue, and get the same benefits, if not more? And in the long run, Im right and theyre wrong. I told them that wasnt the best move, and they went and did it anyway, and look how far it got them.
DX: You talk about mentoring people and hinted in the diss record that you gave advice to Ransom to be more introspective, would you say that his shift to sounding more emotional on his records was your influence?
JB: Definitely, definitely, definitely. Hell yeah. I hate to pat myself on the back, but anybody who Im closely affiliated with, or anybody from New Jersey, especially Jersey City, who is talented like he is- nine times out of ten, Im more experienced than them and Im a bit wiser in certain areas. Not all, but certain areas. So I tried to give him a couple words of advice, but some niggas dont want to hear everything. I did tell him that the introspectiveness was needed to kind of get away from being so repetitive, and to create your own lane and get out of that whole guns and ratchets and sex, money, murder shit that he was doing, and he then started to do that, which was great.
DX: What is the JC disease you refer to in Heart of the City?
JB: Crabs in a bucket. The minute somebody doing good, you gotta hate him. Its been like that for quite some time. And I only call it the JC disease cause thats where Im from and thats where I see it. Jersey City is only 8 miles long, its a very small place and the amount of hate that comes out of there is just uncanny.
DX: A lot of people think you already kind of did him in with Ransom Note.
JB: I didnt though, and I keep telling people- if Ran wasnt a friend of mine- not even a friend, I dont want to use that word too loosely- if me and Ran didnt have the type of relationship that we have, after I put my initial response out, I couldve put three more out the same day and the next day I couldve put two more out. I couldve really kept going and said some hurtful things to make niggas really not want to fuck with him anymore. But I didnt do that. I was cool, I was mellow about it I went really, really light. But even with me going light and him going hard, hes still not going to be able to fuck with me lyrically.
DX: Maybe hes looking for some publicity.
JB: But to do it that way What made me look at it like it was funny was that he had a mixtape coming out in two or three days. Even if his claim was legitimate, the fact that the first time I saw your diss record it said, my mixtape coming out in two days right next to it, it made it look a bit suspect. I got a tape coming also in a month, but dissing my people is not something Im willing to do just to get promoted.
DX: He might have to change the name of his mixtape now.
JB: No, he can leave it as Ransom Note. As a matter of fact, I think its out now. Please everybody, run out to your local Mom & Pop store, the Jamaican or African on the corner, and pick the tape up. Thats why I named my second response Ransom Note, Im trying to help him get some pub out there. [Laughs]
DX: Thats nice of you.
JB: Im nice, Im a nice guy.
DX: On the radio interview you did with him Sunday night, DJ Envy said that he thought the beef records with Ransom brought the old Buddens back. You sounded offended by that.
JB: Yeah, thats the dumbest shit I ever heard in my life. Thats crazy, the old Buddens back. Def Jam would like for people to believe that Buddens retired, or isnt the same rapper, when the reality of it is the longer I sat there not releasing music, I continued to get better and better and better. So I dont get offended when the average Hip Hop listener says something like that, because how are they to know? I havent put an album out in so long. But when a nigga like Envy, whos a DJ and its your job to keep your ear to the streets When you say something like that, it just lets me know that A, you really havent been keeping your ear to the streets or B, you might think I released something that was a little bit suspect. And I knew it couldnt be B, so yeah, I was a little offended by that.
DX: What specifically led to your release from Def Jam?
JB: I stayed there so long just being patient, and trusting that the powers that be would eventually get on top of their A game and recognize my talent and try to capitalize off of it. But we coming up on a five year mark in June. The memory of the Hip Hop audience is not that long. I couldnt just sit around and keep releasing Mood Muziks for the rest of my career, so I needed to make a move that was beneficial to both of us. They obviously didnt want to be bothered by me, and I didnt want to be bothered by them. Def Jam is not the old Def Jam. Def Jam isnt what it used to be, when you heard Def Jam you thought of real Hip Hop and rap at its finest, Def Jam now is I dont wanna say a pop label, but its kinda pop.
DX: You give props to Jay on some of the leaked, untitled tracks for Mood Muzik 3
JB: Like what?
DX: You refer to The greatest rapper alive who is now wearing suits, who everyone is comparing themselves to.
JB: Okay, I did say that.
DX: So you dont bear any resentment towards him?
JB: Any personal feelings I have towards Jay have nothing to do with the fact that I think hes the greatest rapper breathing. The guy can rap better than anybody else who picks up a microphone. Now, is he the same Jay as "Reasonable Doubt Jay" or "The Life and Times Jay" or "Blueprint Jay?" Thats a totally different question. In my opinion, hes by far better than anyone else rapping. Im an Andre  fan, Im a Lupe fan, I like guys that really can rap. Whatever me and Jay went through on a business level I could think that hes the worst president ever, but that doesnt take away from his skill.
DX: Youve been in talks with a lot of labels, what are they saying about you?
JB: Theyre excited, everybody is excited and everybody wants to know whats wrong with me. Like there has to be something wrong with me somewhere for Def Jam to keep me sitting for such a long period of time without doing anything at all. But there really isnt anything wrong with me. The music is there, the capability is there, the work ethic is there, the talent is there, being marketable. Everything is there, so theres nothing wrong with me. So thats a question thats always fun when it comes up in the meetings.
DX: How are you going to make sure you get the album out shortly?
JB: My album will be out in the summer of 2008, no matter where I am. Its not like I have to go somewhere and record a billion songs. I already have music done that Im happy with that I never handed in to Def Jam, and I already have beats that Im ready to get on that I have been collecting over a course of three or four years. So I just have to make sure my deals right. I have to make sure the company is just as happy to have me as I am to have them. The album part? That will take care of itself. I was living like an unsigned artist. I had all these capabilities and I was making all these records and making all these freestyles for no point at all. So now, when I sign my new deal, itll go like a normal artist getting a deal. Ill bust my ass, Ill make my records and the albums will come out, and Ill reap the benefits of being a rapper.
DX: The attention span of todays average rap fan is pretty short. Do you think the market, outside of your following, is going to be receptive to you?
JB: Theyll be receptive when I put this smash record on the radio that I have on my computer, theyll be receptive then. When I come back I have records in my computer that could change the whole course of the direction that music is in right now, but Id have been a fool to try to put those records out in a building that isnt behind me at all. So when I get my next situation, I think the mainstream, buying audience will be receptive to me. I mean, you got guys like Freeway who havent been out in a million years, you have guys like The Clipse, who aside from putting out this last album, had like four years in between their album. Theres a lot of people that are taking time to put out their sophomore releases due to the climate, or the label situation with all the mergers. But whatever the reason, it seems like when Joe Budden takes so long, every day somebody is asking Where is it? Where is it? Where is it? instead of trying to find out what the problem is.
DX: It sounds like youre venting a lot on the tracks Ive heard from Mood Muzik 3.
JB: Well I mean its Mood Muzik. Llaughs] Its going to be Joe Budden venting, its vent session, thats all its going to be. But I dont have too much to vent about nowadays- I feel great, Im in such a great place that the air around me is fresher. On Part 2, I had a million things to vent about. Now, not so many things to vent about.
DX: Did the news about being released from Def Jam affect the content of the mixtape at all?
JB: The things I do on Mood Muzik have absolutely nothing to do with Def Jam, or their plans, or what theyre thinking, or what theyre doing. The Mood Muzik series is all about emotion and a mind state, wherever your mind state is at the time. And if you notice, on a lot of the songs the recordll start talking about one thing and it will end talking about something completely different. I feel like its back to the essence of just letting the pen flow and letting your thoughts all go. So no, the news of the release from Def Jam, that didnt do too much. I had already spit about wanting to be off of Def Jam prior to the news, so it actually worked out great. Its like I spoke something into fruition.
Order Mood Muzik 3 at JoeBudden.org.