Tag Archives: Camron

Under-appreciated Greatness Vol. II: Yeah, Joe Budden is a legend.

joe open

While some of you are ready to lose your mind, peep…

Budden came up in the last era of hip hop when bars were a necessity in route to respect. Joey stepped on the scene circa 2001-2002, the beginning of what is commonly  referred to as the “mixtape” or “punchline” era along side the likes of 50 cent, Lloyd Banks, Young BuckCassidyFabolous, the Dipset movement, to name a few. Seasoned players like Beanie Sigel, Cam’RonJadakiss, and Styles P, who were in the game for a little while, were beginning to flourish as well. This was a point in time when hip hop was changing, dudes were at eachother’s neck, turning interviews at radio stations to battlegrounds. The game was left to the wolves, whether it was Desert Storm (DJ Clue, Joe, Fab, etc), D-Block, State Property, G-Unit or The Diplomats, everyone had a team of lethal pens. Joey not only survived the times, but established himself as one of the more prominent spitters of the early to mid 2000s (hence why he’s still here almost 15 years later). He had one of the biggest hits of 2003, with “Pump it up”, which could have been a gift and curse, but that’s neither here nor there. The success he achieved in the mixtape circuit is what ultimately has defined his legacy. His “Mood Muzik” tapes, were a 4 part series that felt like it was being recorded from a psychiatrist’s couch more than a booth. The tapes were not only critically accalimed in the underground market, it also helped establish a “Joe Budden” brand, carving out his own lane of heavy-hearted and honest hip hop that you’d be hard pressed to find in any of his predecessors.


To some of you, who didn’t really expereince the early 2000s and may only be conscious of  Drake-era hip hop (2009-current), being an emotional rapper may not seem to be anything special to you because you see it everywhere. Hip hop was once a genre based on the alpha-male and self-boasting bravado, where any type of vulnerability or fear was blood in the water to the sharks, and it could be the end of the road for a rapper. Regardless of the fact, Joe fearlessly turned inside-out, letting you into his personal space and speaking on everything from his relationship with a distant son, hatred for his baby mother, and detailed accounts of his trial and error with women, friends and family. He went into the depth of his personal demons and the likes of depression, drug addiction and suicidal thoughts more vividly than the game has ever seen. Joe Budden made it okay to be human in hip hop. Whether it was done purposely or not, this type of content helped him relate on an elevated level with listeners and gained him his cult-following.

joe early

Building even more of a personal relationship with his following, Joe was one of the first people who noticed how important the internet and “visual” accesibility was, via vlogs and youtube. Now-a-days, its a regular marketing practice. Every artist  seems to have a vlog now, because they become more “human” and tangible when fans can see their favorite artist’s activities. In the years proceeding JoeBuddentv, an artist would never let their following look in that close, in fear that it would compromise their still-on-the-corner / superthug image that they were upholding. JoeBuddenTV documented any and everything from his relationship with Tahiry (and arguments), issues with fellow Jersey-native Ransom, one of the first interviews with Drake, or just a game of monoply.

joe budden relationship

Of course that level of openness wasn’t only in regards to his own depth and personal life, he was never shy about his opinions on others. Joe Budden’s name is synonymous with rap beef, which is something that may have overshadowed his true talent. He has battled with Sean Price live on Hot 97 (& lost miserably, Rest In Peace SeanP!) and subliminally but not-so-subliminally battled Jay-Z on record after Hov tried juxing Joe for the Just Blaze produced “Pump it up” track (it became the “Pump it up” remix). Aside from that, he’s beefed with damn near everyone you can think of, from the likes of Saigon to the legendary tier of the Wu-Tang clan. Oh yeah, and Def Jam as a whole got it too (The Growth album?). Though a lot of these situations made for some classic records, they’ve also left a bad taste in the mouths of hip hop listeners and his piers alike.

joe beef 2(Copyright: Complex)

The reason why it may be tough to recognize how important Joe Budden is to hip hop, is because of unnecessary and immature antics that may have come from an honest place, but developed into a stigma on the Joe Budden brand. His unapologetic frankness, which is admirable to some (me), may have also stopped potential-fans at the door before even giving him a chance. Instances like calling out Method Man in an unnecessary fashion (also documented on JoeBuddenTv) made him seem disrespectful and wreckless. Of course, him popping up on Ustream with an icebag over his eye after  Raekwon’s people reacted, didn’t help much, either. It’s these “when-keeping-it-real-goes-wrong” impulses that have grown legs of their own and make some room to slight the Jersey emcee, regardless of his catalog and ability to push a pen.

joe budden beef

On a more personal level, his romantic-endeavors with well-sculpted Latinas were always on display for the court of public opinion. Though he’s given celebrity and careers to a lot of his ex-partners, the element of publicity in a personal relationship can turn on you, especially when there’s an ugly demise involved. There’s a trail of women, longer than any public assitance line, ready to drag Joe Budden’s name through the mud with accusations of domestic abuse, which is tough on public relations. Throw that in the pot with his denim vest collection on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop” and the marriage prosposal gone wrong that made him the butt of memes all throughout IG, and you have a lot of distraction surrounding his actual wins.


The open book that us Budden fans love him to be, has also made him a target and has given plenty of excuses to not recognize his caliber of artistry. All the controversy in the world, from verbal intercourse with the competition to his personal pitfalls, as well as the cliche “one hit wonder” claims, and Mr. Jumpoff Joe Budden has survived it all and remains a lot more relevant than most of his classmates (except Fab), 12 years later. The branch of emotion-driven hip-hop that he’s opened has had a major influence, whether directly or indirectly. The influence resonates with some of the biggest stars of today (He had Drake on JoeBuddetv in ’09). When the controversy quiets and all the claims against him become warn out, all you’ll have is his body of work. Remember, you can’t trust anything without a darkside…


SideBar: All Love Lost 10/16 


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Harlem On The Rise: Smoke DZA: “Dream.Zone.Achieve” album review

Artist: Smoke DZA (A.K.A. The Kush Gawd, Mr. Rugby Thompson)

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(The cover is an ode to a scene in the movie “Belly”, where the camera catches Nas at this angle, underneath that same picture)

Project: “Dream.Zone.Achieve”


The Star: “Ghost of Dipset” (Feat. Cam’Ron)

P Feels: 7 out of 10

The Gage: 1-3/10= Don’t bother listening

4-6/10= You won’t remember this album after a year

7-9/10= Solid

10/10= Modern era classic

9 mixtapes and 2 studio-albums later, A Beautiful April Fools Day in New York, marks the release of Harlem Repper Smoke DZA’s new album “Dream.Zone.Achieve”, split into three “acts”.  The first act (first 7 tracks), is labeled “Dream”,  which is supposed to detail the formation and thought process going into your aspirations. The second act (tracks 8-14) is labeled “Zone”, which is the second stage for the dreamer which is putting those driving thoughts into motion, the dreamer waking up and starting to hustle in an upward direction. The final act, obviously titled “Achieve”, is self explanatory, it’s the fruits of your labor, the result of the work you put it in. The highs of the project go higher, than the lows go low. Mr. Rugby Thompson is able to give already established fans what they want and expect out of him, whether it be Exclusive-Rugby talk or that potent smoke, while also showing his growth and evolution from the album’s predecessors.The gap that separates his previous efforts from this album, is the depth and ability to speak personally, which was only shown in flashes previously. On tracks like number 19, the V-Don produced, “Puzzle of life“, in which he speaks on personal matter such as his deteriorating relationship with his baby mother in the pursuit of success, as well as how his well-documented-weed habit started, and being good  to bad people. The track really serves as testament to all types of trial and tribulation on his journey to get here.

Extensive mind-fuckery/

my conscience like, ‘how long you wanna be number 3?/

Chanel like ‘how long ima be number 2?’/

put music over your family and you gon’ lose us too” (1st verse “Puzzle Of Life”)

Then theres tracks like the Kobe-assisted “I Don’t Know“, in which he speaks more on external conflicts bred by his environment. Here, the Harlem representative speaks on his fast life ventures and the doubts he had to overcome, that were prominent in the surroundings he grew up in. These tracks really showcase the most autobiographic part of his artist that we’ve gotten to date, and though shedding light into the mind and person that is Smoke DZA wasn’t uncommon of him previously, this is really putting the high beams on his personal life, unlike ever before.

Dreams of gettin’ out this motherfucka’ breathin’/

Gotta thank the Lord that I got a voice/

Biggest fear is being 40 on the corner/

stuck in this motherfucka’ without a choice” (1st verse “I Don’t Know“)

Another highlight of the album was his “City Of Dreams” single, the drum driven, new era boom bap record which sounds so 5 borough-ish, with the rugby rocker politicking and criticizing the game for what it’s become. Peep that video too, if you wanna do a little Harlem sight-seeing. The stand out track, however, is the soulful sounds of the King Thelonious produced “Ghost of Dipset“. The track flips Benny Johnson’s “Please Come Back”, and uses the vocal sample in the vein of Kanye or Jus Blaze, reminiscent of the sound The Diplomats brought to the forefront in their glory days (you could almost hear Juelz Ad-libbing over the chorus). And of course, If you’re going to do a song of this nature, as an ode or tribute to Dipset, you have to get the head-hancho Killa Cam to talk a little bit of his shit on it. The Harlem legend blessed us with a some words of sophisticated-ignorance, showing Harlem love and letting us take a little trip in time travel for 4 minutes and some change. For a kid who was in High School in the era when Cam and them took storm, this was exciting and the track thoroughly does the movement’s legacy justice. Dza brought another legend in for the outro, which is produced by Soul brotha #1 one, Pete Rock (If you can’t appreciate that, you need to do the knowledge). This exit door of the album, titled “Achieve“, gave me chills to listen to, because it reminded me of Fat Joe’sDedication” track, second to last off his slept on “Jealous One’s envy” album. Joe shouted out all of the dudes holding it down for us at the time in 1995, which reminded me of the Unity New York once had. “Achieve” serves the same purpose, as The Kush Gawd really shines a light on all the talent we’re producing right now, biggin’ up all the guys in the city doing it, which hopefully propels this New, New York movement forward. Riiiiiigggghhhhttttt *DZA voice*.

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Now I have to get my critic on, and be the bearer of the not so glorious side of the album, just to keep it authentic. While there is no specific track you could really point at, and say “Oh wow, this is weak”, one of the low points of the album is the struggle with cohesiveness and direction. May it be the content, or the production, the album seems like it was put together more like a mixtape because of the disorganization. At times the production is gritty, boom bap, golden era reminiscent, while other times it’s more melodic and smooth. You may also get a taste of the hi-hat heavy, slower bpm, subtle southern influence sound that DZA was no stranger to on his mixtapes and previous joints. While you could say I’m splitting hairs, and diversity is key (which is true), there is no connecting thread or consistent pattern, the sound goes back and forth the whole album, such as it does with the content. You get the gist of the story he’s trying to tell, but it’s scrambled. However, the overly-diverse content, might be due to a bigger issue that the project is 21 tracks long, which leads to my final negative critique. I think the album could’ve been narrowed down, if DZA had been more selective with his vision of what he wanted us to get from the album. He didn’t exactly have to use the “Illmatic” or “Yeezus” formula, but with 21-tracks, it’s easy to get distracted, and for the album to seem a little drawn out, especially in today’s internet driven music game, where new music literally drops every 15 minutes.

smoke 5

Overall, “Dream.Zone.Achieve” is a dope piece of work. Though Smoke is a little J-Reid (“In Too Deep” reference) with the aim of the album, a little all over the place, he does show the evolution in his artist. He keeps his Marijuana-cult following satisfied with his fair share of flight talk, but he doesn’t over-do it to the point where you feel as if you’re listening to a “Weed” rapper’s album. On another note, this album furthers the claim that he is to Rugby Ralph Lauren talk, as Pusha T is to dope game talk, they just keep re-inventing and coming up with refreshing ways to flash the same thing. Some may call it repetitive, while others would consider flipping one thing constantly in new, entertaining ways, as a complimentary signature to the artists style and creative genius. If he still makes it sound dope, who fuckin’ cares. Smoke DZA is a lifestyle rapper, he doesn’t fabricate much, he just documents the everyday life of a fly guy from Uptown (The other side of Manhattan), and this project captures that. This album channels Sean, the person, in Dza’s style, which is an interesting element that I hope we see more of. Other than that, He’s mega-generous with the features, aside from Cam, he collaborates on tracks with Joey Bada$$, Ab-Soul, Curren$y, and BJ The Chicago Kid, just to name a few. “Dream.Zone.Achieve” is definitely a step in the right direction for this “New, New York” movement, and a push for a new era in our city’s already decorated hip hop history…


SideBar: Why is that Flatbush Zombies’ assisted “Bamma Weed”, NOT on the album? that shit is playalistic smooth…

smoke final

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