Good things don’t last forever. That awesome girl you dated in high school and were totally going to marry, are you still with her? Probably not. Are your parents divorced? If yours aren’t, the other person’s who’s reading this right now probably are. Things change. Love dies. The last time we heard a Joe Budden project, he was in a much happier state than we’ve seen from him in years. The singles reflected that, the album sales reflected that, and it felt like our tortured hero’s storm had finally dissipated. But things change. Love dies.
In 2014, Budden returns to us a little darker, a little more damaged, and a little moodier. While some may be expecting the sophomore Slaughterhouse album, it remains very much a work in progress, according to Budden. “There was a point where I was very vocal about the vibe of the last album and that didn’t come to fruition for whatever reason,” he said. “So I’d rather not say the album is near its completion, which it is not right now.” Regardless of the group project, there is plenty of music on the way for Budden fans. Some Love Lost arrives November 4, and a full-length album, All Love Lost, is due out in 2015. However, newer fans take heed, this will not be the Love & Hip-Hop Joe Budden you’ve been accustomed to over the last year.
Some Love Lost promises to be a return to form for the “Mood God,” whose die-hard fans balked at his sunnier disposition in 2013. They wanted the hurt, not the joy, and following failed relationships, a relapse, and a few funerals, that’s exactly what they will be receiving. Are you in that mood yet?
I’ve heard Joe Budden doesn’t have fans, he has patients. What do you say to that?
Yeah, my guy Crooked I texted that to me. I understand it. I understand the people that believe that sentiment. Those are the people that I normally try to speak to. My music has been very relatable to most, it’s been very helpful. I have been sort of a mentor/life coach/therapist – really just someone else going through the same hardships other people are going through out there. That’s probably how I’ve come to develop this fanbase, so I get it.
A lot of your fans seem to always want you depressed.
That does seem to be the case. It’s a horrible gift and a curse. You have a lot of people who feel like – not just me, but musicians period – make better music when they are going through turmoil. With my fans, you have some that want the best interest of me and some that want the best interest of the music and, for the latter, me being depressed means being able to deliver that to them.
That’s kind of a warped relationship, though. You have these people who obviously love you but are kind of hoping for the worst in your life so they get the kind of music they want.
Yeah, but it’s warped with contingencies. I’m sure my fans don’t wish death on me. I’m sure they just wish for enough bad to happen for me to be able to rap about it.
Your music’s always been therapeutic, but last year you went in a direction we haven’t really seen since your Def Jam debut. No Love Lost was noticeably more mainstream, more happy. It had the deep cuts, but the overall mood was lighter. What caused you to go back to the hurt?
Where I’m at physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually usually dictates the music. During No Love Lost, there was a concentrated effort to deliver the singles that some people may have been in doubt that I would be able to deliver. And that’s what I did. The meat and potatoes of the album was still typical Joe Budden, but the overall feel was much lighter than what people had become accustomed to hearing from me.
Today, unfortunately, it’s been a rough 2014, so the music will indicate that.
The album performed well on the charts. Was there no temptation to just stick with this new formula and reap the rewards?
Nah, because I never want the music to sacrifice at all. I thought the songs performed well, I wanted to take advantage of the visibility that I had of being on TV and being in front of four million people every week. I wanted to try to expand my audience and incorporate more women and get them involved more and I think I was successful in that. A lot of the things I wanted to do, I did. Unfortunately, fans hear the single with Wayne [and write it off]. And, you know, that was important to me, too. Networking with some of the other artists that I had blocked myself off from doing for so many years. So we did that, we developed some relationships with people and we did a lot of things that Joe Budden just doesn’t normally, typically do.
On my EP, there are no rap features. I’ve never been one to feel that I needed them. I have a lot to say, I’m long-winded and I can write and perform 150 bars within a matter of hours. That’s what this EP is delivering. This EP is very current as far as where I am, period. Very current.
I’m assuming the album, All Love Lost, will arrive some point next year, so why the EP beforehand? You had something to say right now?
Yeah, I had something to say immediately.
You mentioned it being a rough year. You relapsed after a long stretch of sobriety. That had to affect your mindset, not only musically but personally, too.
A relapse affects everything. It affects your life in all areas, all facets. You know, [I’ve been] dealing with a relapse, dealing with different relationship struggles, different demons, dealing with a lot of death. A lot of people passed this year. So many things happened this year.
Some Love Lost is the EP. People went crazy over “OLS 4,” but you’ve been teasing “Only Human” and “Poker In the Sky.” Can you shed some light on those records?
Nope! I ain’t shedding shit! [Laughs.] Unlike my typical self, who would just give away all the information, I have made it a point to be very cryptic in all things involving this project. “Only Human,” “Poker In the Sky,” those are just very detailed, in-depth records that say a lot and they sound really good. And while those are two of my personal favorites from the EP, a lot of fans are going crazy over the “Different Love” snippet, which is also a favorite of mine. It’s Joe Budden across the whole EP. That’s really the best way for me to explain it.
Fair enough, but I still have to pry a little bit. You had this verse on “Say Dat Then” where you’re talking about, I believe it was your grandfather, saying “He can’t even play his poker games in peace, y’all got to chill.” Is “Poker in the Sky” dealing with that same type of stuff?
Oh, aren’t you observant. [Laughs.] Somewhat, yes. You have to hear it, I guess.
You mentioned that your family heard that “Say Dat Then” verse and felt some type of way about it. Have they heard this one?
Oh yeah, definitely. My grandfather heard [“Poker In the Sky”] in the middle of a poker game actually, so I don’t know how well he heard it but he did hear it. I played it for him.
And it went over well?
Yeah, he liked it. He wanted me to keep playing it but I wouldn’t. I told him to buy it.
From Tahiry to Kaylin, are you more hesitant now to put your relationship in front of the camera?
I’m more hesitant now to just be in a relationship, fuck a camera. I’m hesitant, period. Fuck that.
Really? Because you have a reputation of being this serial monogamist.
That’s what people say. People say I’m a serial monogamist, but I’m not. I am focused on me, my family, and my music, and in the course of that, if god decides to put someone in front of me who I’m willing to invest in, then I will use plenty of discretion before that begins to take place.
I imagine it would difficult, not just with women, but with people in general, to see how genuine they are. Like, are they around you for you or are they around you for what you can do for them?
Yeah, pretty much. In today’s day and age, you gotta be a profiler to really know who people are, which most of us are not. So, we need time and life to start happening for people to really show their trust colors. Yeah, I would say it’s pretty difficult, especially for someone in my position.
You have a line on “Offshore” where you say, “Tell me what if this is big as I’m supposed to be/ I’d hate for that to get confirmed don’t take the hope from me.” You’re someone whose career has run the gamut of major label to independence, hit single to mainstream obscurity and everything in between. Let’s do a Christmas Carol type of scenario: If someone could come show you where your career will be in five years, would you want to see?
No. I believe that life is meaningless without hope, which is really what that line is about. Without hope, what are we living for? I wouldn’t wanna see where exactly I’d be in five years. I wouldn’t wanna know my exact date of death. I wouldn’t want to know my exact cause of death – well, not today I wouldn’t. Maybe tomorrow I would. Certain things I just want to allow to take place rather than just have the knowledge beforehand.
Keeping the scenarios going, love plays a big part in your music, but music is a big part of your life. So, would you rather lose all the love in your life or all the music?
You take music out of here, you need to take me with it. I don’t want to be on a planet without music.
A world without love would make for one hell of a Mood Muzik 5, though.
Yeah, it’d be great music. And then I could try to create love from great music. Hopefully people would love Mood Muzik 5.
Is that one your mind at all, by the way?
At the moment, no. It’s not on my mind at all. I’m one hundred percent focused on the EP and the LP that’s going to follow, just because I’m still of the belief that I can make the best body of work that I’ve ever made. That’s always my mindset on each project. I’m not thinking about Mood Muzik 5 right now.
Before I let you go: Shady XV. Shady Records is basically the Apple of hip-hop. No one ever knows what Eminem and company are doing over there. What’s your knowledge about it? Are you on it?
I am on it. And that is all I can say about Shady XV so we can keep our Apple business going.
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