Joe Budden is a polarizing figure in hip-hop. He has a cult fanbase that adores him for putting his life on display as much as he does, but then he also has his detractors who would rather he simply rap instead or being so personal. A strange stint on Love and Hip-Hop New York exposed the New Jersey wordsmith to a broader audience, but before that, it was his 2003 hit “Pump It Up” that put him on the map. However, the song would prove to be a gift and a curse, given the fact that it launched Budden‘s career, but, as the years of label woes progressed, it would also prove to be his only impression on the mainstream audience for quite a while. Nevertheless, fans would be fed with a steady stream of introspective and, at times, frustrated music over the years. When he’s not Ustreaming or cuffing his latest chick, the Slaughterhouse founder is rapping his ass off. Therefore, as we did with Chamillionaire, we’re going to school you on ten Joe Budden songs of which you need to be aware.
“Whatever It Takes”
Joe Budden has never tried to hide the fact that he has suffered from depression in his life. His struggle with it has set the tone for a large part of his music in the past and it has also brought out classic material, including this fan favorite. Clinton Sparks adds a much more soulful backdrop to this record than the original did and it makes for a more memorable and evocative song. In much the same way Joe would do years later on “Follow My Lead,” he attempts to summon the courage to beat his demons.
On one of the standout cuts from his overlooked debut album, Budden describes, in vivid detail, the effects his drug use had on his relationships with his mother and his ex-girlfriend.
Aside from being able to turn his problems into great music, Joe has a knack for storytelling and metaphor records. Here, he personifies his depression as a troubled woman with whom he has a tumultuous relationship.
“Three Sides to a Story”
Perhaps Budden’s most popular story record among his fans, along with “Secrets,” “Three Sides to a Story” follows a family in turmoil. Each verse is from the perspective of a different person: Derrick, the older brother who was recently released from prison; Sally, the young sister who is being molested by her mother’s new boyfriend and Beau, the molester. The song is a masterful piece of storytelling with plenty of twists to keep the listener’s attention.
Joe Budden went through more than his fair share of label purgatory following his debut album’s lackluster sales. He channeled his frustrations into his Mood Muzik series, which spawned one of his most venomous records in “Dumb Out,” which is over six minutes of lethal shots aimed at a whole bunch of people.
One thing Budden can do perhaps better than anyone else, is keep the listener’s intrigued with records that last an eternity. Here, we get a, you guessed it, a 10 minute song that finds the rapper spitting about everything from his hometown, his father’s absence, and his guilty conscious over an affair with an unnamed woman (who would also be addressed on “I Couldn’t Help It” years later).
“Pray for Me”
Over a chillingly haunting beat, Joey has a confrontation with god where the two exchange their disappointment in one another. The song was undoubtedly the highlight of his Padded Room album and remains a classic in his catalog.
“Who Killed Hip-Hop?”
Back in 2006, Nas got everyone in a tizzy when he proclaimed hip-hop as dead. While some rapers took offense, Joe decided to let loose a by-the-book case fit for the courtroom. The song was released in three parts, but was eventually clipped together by fans as a 15-minute masterpiece.
In 2009, Budden was hit with a ton of adversity. He had an all-too-public breakup with longtime girlfriend Tahiry and he was infamously punched by a member of Raekwon’s entourage while backstage at Rock the Bells (Mickey Factz was also there for some inexplicable reason). In classic Budden fashion, he channeled all this into a soul-bearing song. It wouldn’t make it on any album due to a sample clearance issue, but it made an impact regardless.
“All of Me”
Ask most fans what their favorite Joe Budden song is and “All of Me” will pop up more often than not. The undying classic from his Mood Muzik series finds the rapper reminiscing over his start in the industry, beef, addiction and death.
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