Joe Budden Talks ‘All Love Lost’ Album, Mixtape Memories and Cuffing Season Tips [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Joe Budden may be as accessible as they come in the world of social media, but real life proves to be another story. Multiple attempts to lock down the rapper for an interview seemed to be futile, but given the fact that he's in the middle of a promo run for his new album, All Love Lost, the pushbacks and cancellations are more than understandable. Yet here we are, at The Boombox office, preparing to chop it up about his recent happenings. But, when thinking about it more, the cat and mouse game that preceded this meeting was quite appropriate being that the New Jersey native has always been one to hold the cards and make you play according to his hand.
After a sour relationship with Def Jam pushed him to find refuge in the same mixtape scene he had emerged from as the hottest prospect not named 50 Cent in 2002, Joe Budden flipped the script and turned what appeared to be a loss into a new lease on life as an artist. Instead of being confined to the constraints of the major label system, he cultivated his already dedicated fan base by being one of the first rappers to embrace social media platforms and baring his soul on his popular Mood Muzik series.
The past five years have been especially generous to the rapper and have afforded him opportunities unforeseen, like his appearances on Love & Hip Hop and Couples Therapy. However, they've also been peppered with controversy. High-profile relationships and low-lights such as having a warrant out for his arrest are also a part of the Joe Budden package, but instead of shying away from it, he all but invites the scrutiny and the fodder and infuses the details into his rhymes. The saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words and few artists paint lyrics on beats as vividly as Joe Budden.
But through the good and the bad, the 35-year-old artist continues to shuffle his deck, revealing enough to keep the casual fan engaged while remaining just short of an enigma. And that's the true essence of an artist, isn't it, to keep the crowd's attention. We spoke to Joe Budden about his new album, All Love Lost, his Cuffing Season tips, his time on Couples Therapy, the possibility of a Triangle Offense project and much more. Find out what's really going on inside the Slaughterhouse member's mind below.
The Boombox: You're pretty heavy on social media and are well-known for your luck with the ladies. When do you feel Cuffing Season officially starts?
Joe Budden: After Labor Day weekend is when you should start scouting and by the beginning of basketball season you should be in full effect. 'Cause after Labor Day, men, we pretty much have football to keep us occupied, but further along, you should have your Cuffing Season pretty much in tact.
What would be five detailed tips you would give to the average Joe trying to reel in a chick for a little Netflix and Chill?
You gotta really pay attention to pre-draft workouts, that's important. Two, don't argue, cuffing season's not for arguing and fighting, it's for Netflix and Chill. Three, don't let her dominate your bed space. Women like to take over the entire bed, which makes for a very uncomfortable sleep as a man so you gotta put your foot down far as bed and cuddling rules. Four, don't succumb to loneliness or horniness like, don't just lay up with a ugly bitch just for the sake of having someone to lay next to, that's very important as well. And five, you gotta have some good s--- to watch. I got Netflix, I got Apple TV, I got On Demand, there's a million things to watch. You can never be lost for content to look at.
You just dropped the All Love Lost album and the reception has been pretty favorable. What was your goal or mindstate going into this album?
I had a vision for this album that I just wanted to execute and I think I came pretty close to doing that. I had a story I wanted to tell. I had topics I wanted to touch on and I had a idea of how I wanted that to sound and come across. And for the most part, people seem to be enjoying it. They say it's one of my better projects. So I'm actually just anxious to get in and see where it takes me next. We don't really get to bask in the project as it's released. It's new to everyone else, but it's old to me because I've worked on it for so long. It's like sending your child off to college. You worked on this child so long and now you gotta send 'em off into the world so it's similar to that.
You're known for working with a lot of unsung dudes on the production tip. Who did you hook up with for this album?
I worked with a guy by the name of Dark Night, a guy by the name of 8 Bars those are people that I've worked closely with on my last few projects. They're new and up and coming and extremely talented. I worked with AraabMuzik, he gave me two of my favorite beats on the album ["Slaughtermouse" and "Love, I'm Good"]. I worked with Vinylz, Boi-1da, that was it for the most part. I think those gentleman helped me capture the sound the way I wanted to capture it.
Listen to Joe Budden's "Slaughtermouse"
How did all of the features come about on this album?
I had Marsha [Ambrosius], I had Eric Bellinger and I had Jadakiss. Marsha's a songstress that I adore so any time you can get her voice on a song ["Make It Through the Night"] you should jump at the opportunity to do so. Eric Bellinger and I, we've worked before on one of his projects and when the appropriate song ["Where Do We Go"] came to feature him, we got it done immediately and I thank him for that. And I've wanted to rap side by side with Kiss for quite some time so for that to be able happen on this project... you know, anybody that came up in the hip-hop that I came up in should always wanna rap with Jadakiss, you just should.
You mentioned fans having a problem with the content and features on your last album, No Love Lost. Did that weigh on you while recording this album?
I'm not gonna use the word weigh, but I pay attention. I try to be self-aware. And again, when you're living in the moment, you can't really bask in that album, so at the time, that album was very indicative of where I was and my life at the time. So two years later, you look back at a project and some of the things that took place and you're like, "I don't know see how that song ended up there," but it's in retrospect. Everybody has 20/20 when you're looking in hindsight.
You're a fan of the Knicks. What's your projections for this season?
Not good. Thirty-one wins, miss the playoffs, no draft pick 'cause the Raptors has our draft pick for the [Andrea] Bargnani deal. Dumbest s---, but what can you do?
How do you feel about Kristaps Porzingis being drafted in the first round this year?
I like him, I like Kristaps. KP, Young Durant. I say that jokingly, of course, but I like him. I didn't like the pick when we made it but I hadn't seen much of him. The Knicks won three games at the end of the year that affected their draft pick so I would rather Karl Towns, but the fourth pick is still the highest pick that the Knicks have had in quite some time.
What was your take on the altercation between NBA player Matt Barnes and New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher that made waves last month?
I don't know if I have a take, I don't have a take because I don't really know all the details. They said he drove 95 miles and then it came out that he said that he didn't drive. He said he was already in L.A. or wherever they were. I can't speak to the degree of their friendship because that's what it all boils down to for me, if y'all are really close friends, I don't think that you should f--- somebody's ex-wife. But I don't know if they were just teammates or...
If they were just being amicable for the sake of the team and their bond wasn't deep like that.
I would have to know those things to answer that fully, which I don't.
A chunk of your popularity comes from your appearances on reality TV and your relevance on social media. Do you feel like that fanfare hinders how some people perceive you as an artist?
I mean, it may. Those are not brand conscious outlets so when you do a Love & Hip Hop, as far as they're concerned, it's their show, it's not how you and your brand come off. For me, I'd like to think it's two separate audiences and even if they interlap, it would be by a very small margin. I would like to think people that follow me for my bluntness or my ability to be so frank or matter of fact or "social media antics" or my storylines on television, I don't think those are people that have been following my music for a long time. 'Cause the people that have been following my music, nothing comes as a surprise because that's where I'm so forthcoming, so I don't know.
Watch Joe Budden's "Broke" Video
On a recent episode of Couples Therapy you got put in a bad light...
I did not get put in a bad light. I wish people would stop saying that.
You don't think that that episode put you in a bad light?
No, I missed a court date. Everybody has missed a court date at some point.
It just seemed like there was a negative air, like, the music was dramatic and Janice Dickinson had a few things to say.
The music was dramatic, she's [Janice Dickerson] dramatic, maybe that's my outlook on things. A few people hit me and they expressed concerns about the way I was being portrayed but, I mean, you can't edit what you don't give them so everything that happened happened. Unfortunately, I had a court case that I didn't show up because I wasn't aware so it made me look like I wasn't compliant with this ongoing case. I didn't like that.
I went through that, that whole Couples Therapy process and it's piece by piece, you don't get the whole story. So hopefully later on in the show, they'll go into me being compliant [and] how these allegation are false. Therapy is about getting to the exact nature of the problem and not staying surface so it's real easy to hear those allegations and say, "Oh, he's a piece of s---," but in therapy when you really dig into it, it was a good experience. It was good.
Die-hard Joe Budden fans are very fond of your Triangle Offense freestyles with Fabolous and Paul Cain. How did those collaborations come about?
I was signed to some gentleman from Queens who were very close with Desert Storm, who Fab was signed to at the time, and Muggs, Paul Cain, as well. Him and Fab were brothers and me and Fab rapped together quite a bit back then. It made sense for the three of us to do it since we were featured on [DJ] Clue tapes pretty often. Clue named us that, the Triangle Offense, and we rapped together a lot back in those mixtape days. All of us are still friendly and fly with each other [and] we have talked about rapping together some more, but it's just about everybody's schedule, really, and getting on the same page.
Listen to the Triangle Offense's "Grand Theft Audio"
What would it take to get a mixtape or EP with you, Paul Cain and Fab again?
I couldn't say, that's totally reliant on Fab and Paul Cain. It's about getting the three of us in the room and actually executing and with me being as busy as I am, Fab being as busy as he is and Muggs as well, it becomes difficult to do.
What are some of your favorite memories from those studio sessions?
Just the competitive spirit that we all had. Mixtapes were thriving and being on a Clue tape was like being platinum single in the streets. The competitive nature that we all had and not wanting to get shown up on a track so everybody just brings their A-game and puts their best foot forward. Those are the memories.
On the intro to your album you said you took the high road ever since Stacks Bundles died. What's the meaning behind that line?
The meaning of that line, that doing the right thing doesn't feel good often. "Ever since Bundles passed, I took the high road and watched everybody underpass" means some people living different and taking shortcuts and cheat codes in life basically. It may appear that they're getting further at a different rate and that's not always the case. So just clever wordplay.
What's a fond memory involving Stack Bundles that you remember?
I remember everything as far as Stacks go. Our studio sessions come to mind. I tried to act as a mentor to Stack and I think he looked at me that way and we just had very awesome times in the studio. Stacks was very competitive. Stacks would diss me on the same song that we were both featured on and I would return the favor and reciprocate that and it was all love. We knew that it was no malice, like, we knew that we were just striving to push each other to make each other better.
So Stacks was a good kid that way with a great heart and just a great understanding of s--- and his work ethic was just [great]. I could say a million things about Stacks. I miss him everyday, it's not a day that goes by that he doesn't pop into my head. Shout out to him, shout out to Chinx. Rest in peace to Chinx. Shout out to the whole Riot Squad, Far Rockaway, man. Those guys are like extended family to me because of the relationship that I have with Stacks.
You started off with On Top Entertainment. How did that whole situation come about?
Nothing much to be said there. Some gentleman were starting a company. They heard a freestyle that I did, sought me out. They liked what they heard and I liked what I heard as well and we decided to work together from very early on.
Do you remember what freestyle it was that caught their attention?
It was over the [Nas] "Nastradamus" beat. That's all I remember. And it was a lot of bars.
Are you still in touch with those guys?
I still speak to them. We no longer work together, but I still speak to them.
You've also been in quite a few rap beefs. Which one would you say was the best for the fans?
I enjoy all of 'em, but none were more special than any other ones. Me and Ransom's exchange probably affected me differently because we knew each other personally. And some things happened due to our whole immaturity at the time. He went away to jail, I lost a lot of money -- not that the two are comparable -- but I'm just saying we were both very immature. I'm glad we're able to talk about it years later and recognize our foolishness, but that beef because we knew each other was probably a lot different than the others.
Listen to Joe Budden's "Ransom Note" (Ransom Diss)
Do you feel you don't get enough credit for setting a lot of trends as far as connecting with fans and utilizing platforms like Amalgam Digital before it was in vogue?
I'm a half glass full kinda guy so I never really pay attention to the credit that I'm not receiving. I try to focus on the people that do give me some kinda credit. That's where my intention is. I couldn't speak to what I deserve or not, I have way too much humility to say I deserve more. And I believe in a higher power so whatever I have, he's given me everything I that need. I take that approach.
I'm certain I've influenced some people to do things. I'm a f---ing dinosaur, I put my first album out in 2003, I would hope that I influenced somebody somewhere. Like, when I speak to my peers, when I speak to a [J.] Cole, when I speak to a Kendrick [Lamar], when I speak to a Drake, when I speak to a Lil Wayne, they often tell me about what they think about some of the things that I've did in my career and maybe how it affected 'em at some point in their life. Maybe not currently, but at some point. So I would like to think I influenced somebody, s--- [laughs].
You've often spoken about the mother of your son in your music. How did y'all first meet?
I don't remember to be honest. We met at a local hot spot in Jersey City many years ago. I think it was the Canton. They used to do, like, open mic gigs. [They] used to do like an after party, play a lot of Jersey house, club music, so it was a good spot. I was probably a teen. I'm not sure that she was 'cause she was a little older than me, so I was the teen.
What's your relationship with her now and would you say it's an amicable one?
By my definition, no. It's a relationship that I wish could be better, but again, when you're younger, you envision the great job with the great family and the great wife and the great house with the picket fence and when we come of age. We realize that things just don't necessarily happen that way. I'd like to be amicable with anyone I had a relationship or bond with at some point, but due to circumstances, that just can't be at the time.
What's the worst backlash you've ever gotten after putting a real-life situation in a song?
Maybe "Ordinary Love S--- Part 3" if I had to think of one because that was a real hot topic at the time and a great song at the time. I don't know if backlash is the right word, but it had a lot of people talk and people are very aware of that relationship and that's what social media's for now anyway, to watch people break up and melt down right before our eyes. So it was fun. So yeah, probably that one.
You've been in numerous relationships in the public eye. Which would you say you learned the most from?
I've learned from every relationship that I've ever had. I try to remain teachable and always learn something every day that god grants me life.
Which one was the most fun?
I don't know, Kaylin and I had a lot of fun together, but I mean, I'm a fun person. I'd like to think I have fun in all of these relationships.
What new projects and endeavors can we expect from Joe Budden in 2016?
I wouldn't be able to say, but you can look forward to the Slaughterhouse project, that will be dropping real soon. I go on tour next month, I got a lot going on now. Once I get back in the studio and just start to gauge where everything is at and how everybody is feeling and the beats that are coming my way, then I'll know.
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