Hip hop fans are unforgiving listeners with a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately-approach. So all rappers accelerating in a fast ride, take note and drive towards that finish line before you run out of gas. It’s easy for a talented lyricist to gain a buzz (and non talented ones these days), just ask Papoose, ask Crooked I and nearly every emcee that has attained some sort of success over the last 3 decades. Some of them achieved hood fame with a debut album only to never be heard from again while others shined under international stardom with multiple platinum records. Joe Budden falls somewhere in the middle of this range.
Pump It Up
In 2003, a 22 year old Joe Budden kicked off the summer with the club banger Pump It Up. Regarded by many as part of the new generation of hip hop, Jumpoff Joe had the lyrical ability and subject material to pile up respect points while being versatile enough to appeal to the mainstream and satisfy CEOs. So when the self titled Joe Budden was released to the high standards of record sales of that time, label management was scratching their head as they saw Joey put up a modest 500,000 sold worldwide. Looking back now, it was probably at this point that Joe Budden’s career began its descent. As management changed and time passed, it soon became clear that Joe Budden was on the backburner of Defjam’s priorities. In the end, it took four years of frustration to pass before Budden gained his freedom to start over with fans.
Looking at things from a New Jersey perspective, the last time Joe Budden released an album, the Nets were in the NBA finals. Considering the contagiousness of Alzheimers among hip hop listeners, it is a testament to Joe Budden’s grind that he has kept himself relevant nearly six years later. In his own words, the Mood Muzik series kept him “afloat” during his hell of inability to release music. So in a situation where most rappers would have run out of gas, Jumpoff Joe is sputtering on empty, producing just enough pollution to make it to February 24th. Like it or not, the critical weeks following Padded Room’s release will determine if there are more chapters left in the book of Joe Budden’s career. Either way, Joe has put up an honorable fight against the industry’s tradition to starve shelved and independent artists. There is not much more you can ask for from Jumpoff. You wanted a hit, he gave you Pump It Up and Fire for good measure. You wanted Joseph Anthony Budden, he told you 3 Sides To A Story and Who Killed Hip Hop. You wanted to see his battle gear, he handed you Ransom’s head. The young flashy Joe Budden started off with a flurry but was knocked down by the more experienced industry. He got up to retaliate, yet getting weaker with every round that passed. But with every round Joey has hung in against the champ, the crowd rises behind him even more. Round 11, Joe Budden fought back with Halfway House. Round 12, he will let it all out of the Padded Room, and as long as Joey stays on his feet, we might get to see another fighter take on the industry.