Joe Budden: Live & Direct

O n his acclaimed eight-minute mixtape track, “Dumb Out,” Joe Budden professed, “Let me find out Hip-Hop turned Republican.” In the election for “King of New York,” perhaps Joe is a worthy third-party candidate. With hit records like the current assist on Ne-Yo’s “Sexy Love” and a rich history of introspective verses, Budden meets the […]

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n his acclaimed eight-minute mixtape track, “Dumb Out,” Joe Budden professed, “Let me find out Hip-Hop turned Republican.” In the election for “King of New York,” perhaps Joe is a worthy third-party candidate. With hit records like the current assist on Ne-Yo’s “Sexy Love” and a rich history of introspective verses, Budden meets the parties halfway where most can’t go. If a campaign is indeed in order, then Friday night’s Hammerstein Ballroom stage is the New York Primary. (Tickets can be purchased at the door or Ticketmaster)!

The Jersey City veteran understands the importance of such a performance. Still, Joe promises to devote no extra energy than he would for any other show. However, the man who says he’s beginning his career all over again intends to add to an already cult-like fanbase. The night promises to be big, and the fan inside of Budden is equally anticipating some of his peers’ performances. From mic check to encore, Joe Budden has devoted his passion to keep the rhymes real and the seats packed. Friday night knows no different. I’ve never seen a Joe Budden performance before. As a fan, I’m excited to see what it’s all about…

Joe Budden: [Laughs] You know what? Quite a few people have been saying that. Let’s just start there for a second. When you’re performing for an Up North crowd, how does that differ from the ordinary old show? How is the New York stage more important?

Joe Budden: For me, it doesn’t differ. For me, there’s no difference at all in the actual performance. Of course, the crowd is always different ‘cause New York is one of the tougher markets to perform in. Them n***as will just f**kin’ stand there unless you performin’ [“It’s All About The Benjamins”] or some s**t. From a performance standpoint, I go into every show with the same state of mind: I’m trying to tear it down. Everybody talks about the two sides of your music – the club and the heartfelt. When you’re performing in New York, in the past, what does the crowd gravitate to more?

Joe Budden: Um…the club s**t. In 2003, when the album came out, I was getting maybe four or five shows a week based off of the club s**t. The die-hard Joe Budden fans, they knew that there was more substance to me. But I think, as of late, with the release of “Mood Muzik Volume 1” and “Mood Muzik Volume 2” and everything that I’ve been doing on the mixtapes, I think people are starting to appreciate the other side more. I’ve been to a lot more shows where people just want to hear that. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t had a mainstream song out there, but people really wanna hear that other stuff a lil’ more now. Recently, I interviewed MC Eiht. He blew me away when he said that he can perform any song from the 400 or so he’s released. If I asked you right now to perform a mixtape track like “Dumb Out” verbatim, do you think you could?

Joe Budden: Yeah. Anything that somebody wanted to hear, I could do it on the spot. ‘Cause I mean…I listen to my music. [laughs] From an artist’s standpoint, I’m listening to get different ideas, to see what I could’ve done differently, what I could’ve done better. Unless you go back… there may be two songs that I can’t do. That’s from very early in my career – songs I didn’t even like, songs that I didn’t even listen to. There’s artists out there that have songs that they will not perform though. I think LL Cool J has one even. Being such an emotional dude in your lyrics, do you have stuff that you just can’t do?

Joe Budden: No. I can’t say that I’ve ever had that problem. There’s not a song that I wouldn’t do. With the Ne-Yo “Sexy Love” record being so hot right now, how would you evaluate your current buzz?

Joe Budden: I feel great! I feel great not so much because the Ne-Yo record is spinnin’ so much, but I just feel like I have a lot of things in the works, I really feel like this is the beginning of my career all over again. I’m a tad bit more knowledgeable than I was before, and I’m a tad bit more talented than I was. I feel great. My label feels great. Everything is wonderful. Scratch magazine recently acknowledged “Mood Muzik Volume 2” as one of the greatest mixtapes ever. How did that feel?

Joe Budden: Oh s**t, I couldn’t even put into words how stuff like that makes me feel. For years, I went back and forth in this debate with my record label over the type of music that people want to hear or the type of music that sells or the type of music that’s marketable – and everything on “Mood Muzik Volume 2” was full creative control. I was able to do everything I wanted to do. I was on downtime where n***as wasn’t really checkin’ for Joe Budden. My label wasn’t puttin’ me to work. So I had time to do everything that I wanted to do, and pour my heart out, and put it out. It was received so well. S**t like that, when I see it in Scratch, XXL, and VIBE, The Source, and it gets such great acclaim, I can’t even explain it. There’s some mixtapes that deserved to be repressed. Mister Cee’s “Best of Biggie” is the kingpin. Tony Touch’s “Tape 50” is another. “Mood Muzik” is approaching that level to many…

Joe Budden: When the New York Times had it in there, that let me know it was being received pretty well. You had this record “When Thug’s Cry” five or six years ago. That was my introduction to your work, and something I consider to be a mixtape classic. Tell me whatever you can about that record right there…

Joe Budden: At that time, I was newly signed to my production company, On Top. My Def Jam deal wasn’t even finished yet. I was new to the mixtape scene, and I didn’t really know which way to go. I hadn’t done too many freestyles. The ones I had were a bunch of metaphors. The records I was doin’ were a bunch of Pop, mainstream sappy bulls**t that I was workin’ on tryin’ to get this deal. One night when everybody was gone, I had this idea in my head. It was an actually a song I was tryin’ to give to one of my artists at the time. They didn’t want it. It was four in the morning. My producer was knocked out tired. I woke him up and made him do this f**kin’ record – he was amazed by it. That was my first introspective record to hit the streets, ever. I just wanted to show people that there was a lot more to me than the metaphors and the similes and whatever radio bulls**t I was still doing at the time. Ironically, I’m still stuck in that predicament today. [laughs] On “Dumb Out,” you said “Let me find out Hip-Hop turned Republican.” What’s that mean to you?

Joe Budden: It did, it did, it did, it did – especially from a fan’s standpoint. Nowadays, the people supposed to enjoy the music – the “Hip-Hop activists” – they’re like a rarity now. Everybody’s in the business. Everybody’s so concerned with numbers and budget and f**kin’ Soundscan, and image, and everything that Hip-Hop never stood for. It’s just pretty f**ked up. I feel like on one side, you’ve got the Democrats which would be – I don’t wanna “the backpackers” – but [them], but the people that are in it for the love of the music and the art of it. [Then you’ve got] the Republicans – the people who are in it for the money, the people who stand for other things. Playing along with the performance theme, was there ever a point in your career, where a show went completely wrong?

Joe Budden: Hmm…hmmm. Um, yeah. [laughs] Actually, there was. There was one in Cleveland. It was on the Def Jam Vendetta Tour. Keith Murray was performing, Method Man – a lot of people who know how to perform were performing. I was the new kid on the block. My n***as didn’t know the words to anything. The system was bad. The music was cuttin’ on and off. I was nervous. I was buggin’ out on the stage. I didn’t get booed. I managed to pull it off, but everything went horrible. I screamed on my entire staff after the show. That’s probably the only show that I’ve ever screamed at the people that I work with. It takes a lot to get me to that point. As a fan, what’s one performance, aside from your own on Friday, that you wanna see at AllHipHop’s concert?

Joe Budden: Um…you know what? I’m anxious to see Papoose perform. I would like to see his performance. I’m anxious to see Lloyd Banks perform. Those are really the two that I actually anticipate. I wanna see how it turns out.