Joe Budden – A Loose Quarter – The STiXXclusive Review

*insert little kid voice* NEW JOE BUDDEN!

Joe Budden, back by somewhat popular demand, has stepped away from the twitterverse and decided to give us a mixtape before his album comes out at the beginning of 2013 (unless you believe in December 21st, then disregard that comment). In all seriousness however, he’s one of the more underrated and under-appreciated rappers in the game right now and that seems to be overlooked by the fact that he’s in a relationship that is fuelled with Instagram pictures of his rather young female companion. He also is one to have a continuing battle with his exes, especially the more known, Tahiry. A loose quarter, if we want to look at it literally, is one that we often lose in between the cracks like our sofas or just hang around loosely in our pockets. Metaphorically, he’s 1/4 of Slaughterhouse (one-quarter), and they had their mixtape and album come out and hold the ears of listeners for a minute, but now, Joe Budden, being the emotionally loose cannon that he is, it was time for him to come to the plate and tell us what’s been going on in his life at this point.

Click the link to get the mixtape…but read the rest of the review too.

The Intro is beautifully crafted, because he gets straight down to the point: he’s finally alone (without the aid of Slaughterhouse) and he knows that the people have been waiting long enough, so it’s time for him to talk to the people; the fans; the people who want to exactly what this guy’s been going through (although we have a bit of an idea, but it’s better to hear from the source). Production felt like the opening credits of a movie or TV show – like Law & Order’s extended theme just building anticipation. I’m not a huge Joe Budden fan, but this was a project I was looking forward to, so hopefully it would deliver on all levels.

A Chameleon is a reptile that is able to blend in with its surroundings to ward off predators. Words of a Chameleon puts Joe in the perspective that he, in fact, is blending in with his surroundings to protect himself from outside. A brief synopsis of the inner demons he battles with. Having had close calls with death, he uses a lot of references in this to give you the dark side that he’s living with, such as the death of Stack Bundles & Tupac getting shot. It’s more so the way how Joe has changed over the years because of disputes between record labels that simply put him in the position where he is now, instead of where he was a few years ago (well, more than a few; almost 10). You have to change your image based on your surroundings, so he did that, and thus Slaughterhouse was born as a way to bounce back his career that had been deemed ‘lost’ for quite some time while being consistently underground. AraabMuzik produces this track and others on the mixtape, and has worked with Slaughterhouse before, producing one of their hits Hammer Dance. This is a good start, because Joe’s one that has a lot on his chest to air out, so let’s proceed.

Going back to what he was talking about how he had a setback on What Y’all Want, Joe talks about the fact that he’s an artist that shouldn’t have been overlooked and seemingly blacklisted by Hip Hop. My boy Dwayne made a good point in saying that it’s a shame that he’s such a talented rapper that can rhyme with the best of them, but yet he continues to not being taken seriously. That’s changing, and with the help of Slaughterhouse’s success, his solo career has a shot at redemption. People bring up the past and try to distract you from what you’re currently dealing with. He mentions one of his exes, Esther Baxter, because people think that he’s still linked to her, even though he has a current girlfriend (that’s very attractive and all over Instagram). When you were nothing and then you become something, that draws one thing and one thing only – more haters. Joe had to scrap and work his way to get back to where he is, and now that he has found success, there’s nothing much that you can tell him, whether it’s a rapper that’s been in the game for years, or someone on the internet saying that he’s garbage. The way this generation of Hip Hop fans operate, the words ‘classic’ and ‘legend’ are always used when someone new comes out. Also, the word ‘saviour’ has been used in context when it comes to the bright leader of Hip Hop. J.Cole was labelled as one, Kendrick Lamar, and one rapper that Joe mentions in this song, Jay Electronica:

The veterans be pissed when we pay mind to they selections
And the newbies get gassed every time they Jay Elect them

So let’s get it clear first before you compare them to me
Wait a couple years, make sure they don’t disappear first
It’ll save us some confusion
Everything ain’t a classic and everybody ain’t dope some of that is an illusion

Proclaiming that someone is going to be a legend before an album comes out is very common, and sometimes I can find myself guilty of that, but people these days are more about anticipation and less about patience. If you’re hot for a month, and then someone else new comes out and they’re the rising star, the sheep will follow – it’s as simple as that. Joe definitely deserves his respect, and he is better than a lot of rappers that are out, whether they’ve had longevity or are coming out now, he’s earned his stripes, so at the end of it all, it’s a simple question – what do y’all want? I don’t think he’ll get an answer.

This song has been one of the more anticipated ones, if you’ve been following Joe Budden on twitter. There were talks of a Slaughterhouse & Black Hippy track, but then it turned an Ab-Soul & Joe Budden song. Numerous times, Ab-Soul & Joe would exchange tweets talking about sending a verse, but there weren’t any signs of progress, but they finally came together and made Cut From A Different Cloth. The term is old, but it means that you’re not like the rest; you’re unique in your own way and shape. Ab-Soul starts it off by saying ‘LOOK AT ME, KING’ paying homage to the (yes, I can say this) legendary battle between Loaded Lux & Calicoe (Lux said the famous line ‘You gon’ get this work’). Ab-Soul is 1/4 of Black Hippy, and right away he displays his masterful wordplay and metaphors putting himself as a God of Rap and that he’s not to be touched when it comes to other rappers. It’s important to have a separate identity while being in a group, because many people from the outside will probably view the group as a whole being relatively the same. Ab-Soul has had independent success this year with ‘Control System’ and he’s aiming to continue that success with great features all around (Check out Enter The Void with Joey Bada$$ if you haven’t already).  Emphasizing the fact that he’s standing alone right now, Joe opens up saying that he didn’t have to be a gimmick to get to where he’s at right now – he’s being himself. He’s had to endure hardships and still is though his rap career, but he’s not like the other rappers out there who are falling off slowly or have nothing meaningful to say in their raps because it’s all about money and swag. Joe had couple of lines  in this track that stood out and really shed light on his perspective of mainstream Hip Hop (or Hip Hop in general):

I came in on Rakim, watch yall take the bar, yall lowered it
Won’t stay in line like a battered wife, ain’t too many spots yall can go with it
How long yall gonna febreeze manure and think the fans won’t notice it?
Nah, I ain’t get angrier, but the chip on my shoulder did

Joe Budden will always get tossed to the side when it comes to him being mentioned with other big names when it comes down to being considered one of the greats because he hasn’t had that mainstream success of, let’s say, Jay-Z or Nas, but he’s put in work to remain somewhat relevant through the years. How else would he be here now if he hadn’t been putting in consistent work?

All I ever been was a outcast, this time in the moment, I moved past that
But the burner name is Jackson and your alias is Baghdad

Joe is not like other rappers. He uses his emotions to fuel him through his lyrics. I draw the comparison like this: Drake also has his emotional side, but Budden goes about it with more masculinity. Meaning, he doesn’t have to attempt to sing to get his message across, because it has an appeal towards both men and women without having to sound ‘soft’.

How would you be able to look at life Through My Eyes? There’s the question, Joe Budden’s here to answer. With the help of the featured rapper Tsu-Surf (play on words for Tsunami? I guess), it’s a song about life through their eyes and being real with themselves on the track. Another beat by AraabMuzik that hits hard, but Tsu-Surf rapping off-beat and whatnot kind of killed the vibe for me a bit, but I was feeling what he was saying, talking about how he had a rough childhood between his grandmother, mother & father. Joe’s verse (like many so far) talks about his life and just how he’s come to where he’s at right now. A bit repetitive, but the emphasis he draws is that what the fans and bloggers see isn’t what he’s living all of the time. Yes, they’re nice things to admire, but the reality is that there are still the dark things in his life that he has to battle to this day. You have to do what you have to do to get ahead in life, and sometimes you have to do things that you won’t approve of, but coming from his point of view, we wouldn’t understand exactly what he has to deal with to maintain his lifestyle. He says at the end, “They only think you take a nigga out the hood, you can’t take the hood out a nigga“, and that pretty much speaks for itself.

Momma Said is the 2nd song that surfaced before the mixtape came out. I could do away with the autotune singing in the hook, but whatever. They say that ‘Momma knows best’, so to have a conversation with her will always give you insight in life, whether it’s about the life you’re living and what you need to change, or simply a guiding light in continuing what you’re doing. My mom is the closest person to me, so this one was one that I could relate to, especially those who have close relationships with their mothers, or have recalled important discussions in their lives. The song touches on Joe’s life like his personality change, his relationship with Kaylin because she’s so young, and his strained relationship with his father and how he doesn’t want to become like him or let him be the downfall of Joe’s life. Joe Budden has had a shaky history when it has come to relationships, so his mother asks him ‘why can’t he ever be alone?’ Sometimes we have to be to gain a better understanding of who we are before we devote our time and lives to another person. Plus, it’s still obvious that his ex, Tahiry is still lingering in the shadows of his life, which is understandable because it’s hard to move on from a relationship like that. Joe’s mother just doesn’t want him to continue to get hurt. Speaking of Tahiry, at the end of the song, he mentions her, but it fades out. This had me quite frustrated as to why he would do that, but in the next song, it all makes sense.

Off 2 the Races has a sample of a Lana Del Ray song of the same title. I listened to the Lana song to get a grasp of the concept of Joe’s version, but I already had an idea that it was about being in love. After listening to Lana’s version, it’s more so about being in love, and being trapped in love and not being able to get out.

And I’m off to the races
Cases of Bacardi chasers
Chasing me all over town
Cause he knows I’m wasted, facing
Time again at Riker’s
Island and I won’t get out
Because I’m crazy, baby
I need you to come here and save me
I’m your little scarlet
Singing in the garden
Kiss me on my open mouth
Ready for you

Joe Budden and Tahiry had a relationship that ended up ugly, but they were at it for years. It was the only reason why I even knew who the hell Tahiry was in the first place, but that’s not the point. The point is that Joe still has feelings for this girl and he took to this song to get it off his chest. It actually sparked some controversy because Tahiry heard it and called out Joe to get to the bottom of it all (Read Here). Joe’s tired of the fact that there’s no closure between the two of them and that they could have been the best of friends, but because of their ongoing clashes, that seems like a near impossible feat to achieve. Fabolous had a line on a track from The Soul Tape 2 that went a little something like this (it’s SO IRONIC that Joe Budden is on the track): “The Karma of fucking over a good person is the asshole you end up with.” Now, I don’t know the track record of Joe Budden and how he was towards Tahiry, but I know he had a history of domestic abuse. Joe has moved on to someone who he’s happy with, and Tahiry ended up with the asshole that treats her badly; that’s what he stated on this track. Everyone has had a break-up that involves two people who will always link together. I’ve had that experience, and Joe & Tahiry have that because they were the couple that was in everyone’s face at any given time. Tahiry was with J.R Smith from the Knicks; didn’t go so well. Now she’s with someone else; not going so well. Joe is standing ahead of her looking back saying that all of it could have been avoided if she didn’t try to act like she didn’t care, when she still does and always will in some way, shape, or form. It’s difficult to let go; Joe did, Tahiry hasn’t. It’s interesting to hear that this is still an ongoing topic that has been hot for 3 years strong. With the addition of the new season of Love & Hip Hop, it may just manifest to something bigger that I don’t think a lot of people are prepared for.

Things get a little comedic here with The Helmet (Interlude). It’s a bit of sexual innuendo, but ‘helmet’ refers to the head of a dick (penis, cock, whichever noun you use), and the guy in the song is asking a woman (who tweeted him 3 times and direct messaged him first) if he could put it in. Basically, he wants to have sex with her, and his persistence is funny as it all plays out as he uses Loaded Lux lines like, “This is all first verse”, “Look at you, emotional”“You gon’ get this work.” It’s a bit of a breather to the mixtape, because it’s filled with a lot of deep emotions, so giving it this vibe to cool off before getting right back into it was pretty cool. 

The next 2 songs are related to each other, because they’re both dedicated to Joe Budden’s current girlfriend, Kaylin. She’s openly bisexual, so they occasionally have sex with another woman. So Good means more than just the sex, because it’s more of an emotional feel for Joe. It’s like the grown man’s version of Best I’ve Ever Had, because no other woman has made him feel the way he feels right now. A notable line: “Real niggas don’t fall in love, we stand up in it.” So Hard continues the sexual wordplay and expresses his intimate love affair with Kaylin. He’s in love with the girl, and he shows her off constantly, so he wants to work as hard as he can to make sure that he comes correct and keeps her in his life despite all of the troubles that come with it. This is the ‘Sexy time’ of the mixtape, but accompanied by the vocals of Emanny and great beats, they’re listenable and definitely enjoyable.

The Dreams (Interlude) changes the mood up yet again, but puts it in a direction that dives back into the soul of things but emphasizes passion. It’s carried by Trev Rich and he said something that really stuck: “To work this hard for a passion is worth more than a salary.” 100% accurate, and that’s something tattoo worthy (no I’m not getting it tatooed on my skin). A lot goes into wanting something that you want so bad. Failure only leads to success if you have the drive to get there. Everyone has a reason to why they want success, and Trev emphasizes his story. It’s passionate, it’s gritty, and he handled the beat really well (Shout out to the Golden Eye N64 reference). You have to grind to get on top, and this is a motivational song to put that into perspective.

Pain Won’t Stop is a song that a lot of people can probably relate to, because there are things in the past that we aren’t proud of, and those inner demons just follow us along till the end. Behind the face of success is the soul of a hurt filled human-being. Joe has to endure a lot of naysayers and a lot of jealous and envious people who want nothing but to rid him of his happiness. He’s gone through a lot in life, so he feels as though he deserves to his dues to be paid already. People say that the best music is made when artists are hurt and go through really rough times. It was evident in his ‘Mood Muzik’ series, and a lot of artists have made careers based on their sob stories (Adele, Justin Timberlake, Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige). Some Joe Budden fans think that he’d make better music if he breaks up with Kaylin and goes into a deep depression so that they can benefit from his misery. That’s not a way that you treat someone who you’re a fan of. I can’t lie, I’ve joked about it before, but you can’t really want someone to be miserable in order to make good music. Just find someone else to listen to if all you want is depressing stories….OR….listen to the older music. Being a slave to the fans is definitely a burden.

Another loose quarter of Slaughterhouse joins Joe Budden on All In My Head. We often ask ourselves questions like: “how did I get here?”, “what could I have change?”, and “what happened to me?” Most of these questions are ones that we can only answer ourselves. That’s what’s evident on this song. Royce Da 5’9 & Joe share their questions and trials or turmoil that they’ve been through to understand is it them or is it everyone else? Being real with yourself is something that a lot of rappers aren’t these days, because not everyone is checking for that type of rap. It’s what’s made Joe who he is, and there are a lot of questions that need answering to bring him back to his own sanity. Another deep one to add to the tape.

I thought the start of More of Me was the beginning of Kendrick Lamar’s Heart Pt. 3, because it has the exact same sample, so it tripped me out a bit. Joe Budden has gone through a lot of changes due to the music industry, but his music and his stories will always be the same consistency, because it’s about him and his life. He went to work on two lengthy verses talking about his troublesome childhood with his parents and the importance of his relationship with Kaylin. It really opened up my eyes to the fact that they’re more than a decade in age separation, but they’ve had so many similar experiences that have shaped them to the people that they are, and Joe says that it’s God’s work that they brought them together and will keep them that way. It’s more than what you see in pictures that defines the relationship between them, and I have to hand it to Joe; when he’s open, he’s open, and being honest with himself is something that is misconstrued for being emotional, but he’s being real. That should never be a quality that’s overlooked when you’re a rapper and you constantly have a target on your back by not only other rappers, but the “fans” that just want nothing but your demise to be their triumph. This is a real song, and my respect went up because of the in-depth detail he went into. It’s like this was these were the lost verses from Slaughterhouse’s Truth or Truth song.

Random, but the last song on Kendrick Lamar’s GKMC is called ‘Now or Never’ too. Don’t mind me, it’s just the little things I notice. This song concludes what has been a great mixtape all around; the story of Joe Budden and what’s been plaguing his mind and his heart for quite some time. This is about what happens next. It’s about how a once “failed” and castaway rapper made his way back to the top (or is still climbing his way). He’s overcome a lot of struggle, and he’s back to make his impact again in Hip Hop but with a newer fan base and the older fans who have been riding with him since the beginning. It’s an inspiring tale of a second chance at life. He uses the wordplay of the word ‘twice’ when referencing to getting rich, beating drug addictions, and taking ordinary girls and making them actually personalities. He’s gone through a lot and claims that he’s better than before, so he’s a roaring Lion that’s been un-caged and he’s coming to eat.

This is a great mixtape, and it should have been an album, because that’s exactly what it sounded like. If you’re a new fan listening to Joe Budden for the first time, and this is the mixtape that you listen to, then I can almost assure that you’ll want to go back and learn the history of Joe Budden, simply because he put his all into this project and held nothing back. Honesty is the best policy; it can hurt & help. To admit to your wrong doings and accept failure to help it move you in a positive direction, that’s something that comes with a lot of experience and personal growth. Joe Budden has shown that, and I’m glad that it succeeded my expectations, because it’s something that I can go back to later on and say “you know what, this is something that I can relate to and help me motivate myself” (if I ever lose the motivation I already have). You learn a lot of Joe that you may have not from before, and it put a lot into perspective that he needs to be taken seriously as a rapper, because he puts out content that is pure, unsaturated, quality hip hop music. I thank Joe for putting this out (for free), and I strongly encourage people to not only listen to this mixtape, but also to pass it along to others who’ve been fiening for good hip hop lately. This is a prime example. This is my opinion & my review, thanks for reading through it all, but for now

That’s My Word & It STiXX

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