It’s 2008, and guess what, Joe Budden is still here. Normally when a rapper endures personal tragedies, and label disputes, they quickly falter and fade away from the limelight. Rather than simply tap out into submission, Jumpoff Joe has allowed his pen to voice his heartaches with the game, and release captivating mixtapes for his die-hard fans.
With three successful Mood Muzik mixtapes under his belt, Joe Budden has a reason to be happy for once. He recently released his latest mixtape, Halfway House, and is collaborating with his new found group Slaughterhouse, featuring Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, and Royce Da 5’9. With Joe relaxing at his new home, Amalgam Digital, he could relish the success of his recent mixtape and await his opportunity of dropping his sophomore album Padded Rooms in early 2009. Unlike some of your favorite rappers, Joe isn’t into all the hype, and flashy merchandise that allures young emcees in. For Joe, as long as a fan is satisfied with his material and well-crafted lyricism, then his job has been completed.
BallerStatus.com: What did you think about the election, with Obama becoming victorious? Were you able to vote?
Joe Budden: Yeah. Hell yeah.
BallerStatus.com: How was it over there in Jersey?
Joe Budden: Well with the time I went in, it was like — it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I went around 2 o’clock, and I was in the studio the night before. It wasn’t bad. It was pretty good, much quicker than I thought. As for as the election, I was holding back tears. Some of them sh**s even fell out. It was a real big ordeal.
BallerStatus.com: Yeah I’m not even going to lie, I was crying in front of the TV. Over here in DC, people were shutting down the streets.
Joe Budden: I’m coming. I’m coming. I’m coming to DC for the Inauguration. I’m definitely coming. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
BallerStatus.com: Before I start getting into the questions about Halfway House and everything, in your opinion, which out of these tracks in your mind do you think were the best you ever recorded: “All of Me,” “Whatever It Takes,” “10 Minutes,” or “Calm Down?”
Joe Budden: Oh come on, come on, come on. What kind of bullsh** is that? You just named … I’ve been recording since I was 14, and you just named four of the best records I’ve ever done. You throw “Walk With Me” in there. If you add “Walk With Me,” those are my five personal favorite songs to me. Those records to me are timeless. I could play either one, any one on any given day, and they will not get old to me. I can’t pick.
BallerStatus.com: Those types of records are real introspective. What posses you to write those types records?
Joe Budden: Well that’s how I write. I write introspective music majority of the time. Those records, actually every one of those records, “All of Me”, “Whatever It Takes,” all of the records — I was really going through some sh** at that point in my life. Probably during the “Whatever It Takes” period, that was the roughest period for me. So I hold that record to a higher regard just because of the world it brings me back to. But I don’t know everything just seems to gel on those records man.
BallerStatus.com: Now as for Halfway House, what’s the response you’ve been getting from that mixtape so far?
Joe Budden: For the most part, people been telling me that they really enjoyed it, and that’s the most important thing for me. The majority of the music I did on there, I did in a matter of a week and a half. With those time restraints that I have, the Joe Budden brand is what I’m most concerned about. I never want to put out a product that is not comparable to my body of work, or the type of music I want people to perceive from me. The fact that it got rave reviews, and people enjoyed it for the most part. Like everything else, it got some hate, but uh, I think it did great.
BallerStatus.com: When I was listening to the mixtape, in my eyes, I felt like there was a different type of Joe. It felt like the tracks came off as rider type music. Was that intentional?
Joe Budden: (laughs) No, not at all. Often at times, music just reflects where I am, and it kind of all just comes together. I didn’t purposely plan on it becoming that way, but I definitely thought it was a progression, and a growth. Often at times, you know, Joe Budden music is more of listening music than riding music. But I thought it turned out great.
BallerStatus.com: Another thing I noticed, in contrast to the Mood Muzik mixtapes, you were real loose when you’re making it. Was it an enjoyable experience making Halfway House?
Joe Budden: Hell yeah, we had a blast. We had a ball making that sh**. You know, Dub B said that it probably came out better because of the time restrictions that we had. We were doing songs without thinking. A lot of times, I’d say “Dub, let me put a hook on that,” and he’d be like “Man f*** a hook. It sounds good the way it is.” We’d just keep going. We didn’t over think anything, and like I said sh** was great.
BallerStatus.com: “The Soul” record on Halfway House relates so much to people. You were just going back in time, talking about your childhood memories. In any sense, do you wish you could revert back in time, and relive your childhood experiences?
Joe Budden: Yeah I think so, depending on what I’m doing. Memories are a big part of life. So depending on what I’m doing, and where I am, anything can bring me back to a certain place.
BallerStatus.com: Do you miss pressing you clothes for school when you were matching, but then got mad at the girl in class when she was absent? (laughs)
Joe Budden: (laughs) Those were good days. Well I can’t live that because I’m in a relationship.
BallerStatus.com: Switching gears, let’s talk about the group Slaughterhouse — consisting of you, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, and Royce Da 5’9. I was watching the YouTube video the other day, and on that “Onslaught” record, you were arguing with Joell as to who had the best verse. Out of you, Joell, Royce, and Crooked, who do you feel had the best verse?
Joe Budden: I think everybody killed it. What happens is a lot of times people see the YouTube videos, and people are like “Joe is talking all this sh** blah blah blah,” but none of us is serious. None of us is serious when we’re talking sh**. We’re more so having a good time, and just trying to bring that competitive nature to the camaraderie that we already have. Personally I like Royce’s verse the best. If I had to pick one, I liked Royce’s verse out of everybody else. When you have four emcees of that caliber on the same track, that’s going to happen where people are saying “I like this guy or I like this one, I like that one.” Everybody is going to have a different opinion. That’s the beauty of it. All four of us are really dope in our own right. We’re not the same type of dope.
BallerStatus.com: What about the “Slaughterhouse” record on Halfway House? Who you think had the best verse on that?
Joe Budden: I’m going to either go with … I don’t know, it’s a toss up for me. Different days, I’ll say Crooked I, and another day I’ll say Nino Bless.
BallerStatus.com: A lot of people on the internet, they were talking about, before the record even came out, that you and Royce had a little beef. How did you guys come together to do the track?
Joe Budden: Uh, We were supposed to do a collab through mutual acquaintances of ours for a long time. Me and him just got on the phone, like on some real sh**. We didn’t even talk about that beef sh**. We had so much other sh** to discuss. When he did the “Slaughterhouse” record, his wife had just finished delivering his child into the world. My respect level for him had just shot through the roof, because he was able to get that done. Then we just continued to speak, continued to speak. Man that beef sh**, maybe just talked about that sh** yesterday for the first time. That sh**, that sh** wasn’t nothing. I respect him and what he does, and he respects me and what I do. I don’t know, it was more so people you know, fans of mine and his wanted to see us beef or wanted to see us collab. The beef sh** for me, that’s played out. Unless it really really warrants that, and I didn’t feel like that warranted that.
BallerStatus.com: You might hate me for this, but Joe, it’s part of my job. Beefs, I don’t wanna touch on this, but I have to. Saigon, Prodigy … you heard what happened to Prodigy yesterday right?
Joe Budden: I don’t know what happened.
BallerStatus.com: Well he almost died in prison yesterday.
Joe Budden: Yeah but that doesn’t say anything. I heard that I mean. I feel annoyed talking about it. I mean … I don’t have any information on it. How did he almost die?
BallerStatus.com: Supposedly the warden was providing him with the wrong prescription. So I guess he was taking the wrong medication. N.O.R.E. was talking about getting the hip-hop police to fix the situation for the way he’s been getting treated in jail, but … What happened with you and Glasses Malone? How did that take place?
Joe Budden: Nothing. Nothing happened between me and Glasses Malone. Uh, misunderstanding.
BallerStatus.com: You put him on blast on the radio. It looked like you were a little upset.
Joe Budden: No, it wasn’t about Glasses Malone. It was more so … my point at the radio station was Akon was doing records with everybody, and Glasses Malone being one of them. Around the same time I said his name, I said he’s doing records with a bunch of wack n****s. So I mean of course I could see how he would interpret that. You know, me and him eventually got on the phone. Glasses, he’s a real stand up guy. I have no issue with him at all.
BallerStatus.com: Now you touched on this earlier about the camaraderie you have with Slaughterhouse, and how it’s a competitive nature among you guys. The thing is a lot of internet guys, they’re on the site, and they talk about how you’ve been getting a little cocky lately. You’re feeling yourself too much. Do you feel it’s cockiness, or do you feel you deserve all the attention, like in a sense you’re underrated?
Joe Budden: I wouldn’t say that I’m getting cocky as of late. I wouldn’t say that at all. Up until two weeks ago, some of these people online never even … up until maybe Joe Budden TV, some of these people have never even seen me behind the music, or speak behind the music. So anybody that knows me … listen, if Joe Budden was the wackest rapper in the world, I would still be talking like that. In everything I do, I’m just that competitive, and I like to talk sh**. I enjoy it. It’s not being cocky or like I’m better than anybody. Like I said, if I felt like I was doing miles and miles and miles better than people in the group, it would be a waste of time for me to do it. Me doing it, I know where I am. I have pretty good idea where everybody is, and the fact that everybody is great, I come in hoping to learn from these three guys. I mean I don’t think pay that cocky sh** no mind.
BallerStatus.com: A lot of rappers, they feel like you have a tendency of saying slick sh**, like subliminals on a record, but then when they approach you about it, you say it wasn’t a shot, it was witty lyricism. Do you feel these rappers are taking your lyrics out of context?
Joe Budden: I’ve heard that as well. Honestly I don’t think I take so many subliminals at people. When I dissed Prodigy, it was the day I dissed Prodigy. For the Saigon sh**, I didn’t intend for that to exist.
BallerStatus.com: Saigon said he’d smack the earth, wind and fire out of you?
Joe Budden: I mean what is he suppose to say? What is he suppose to say? I mean, I understand. I play devil’s advocate a lot. I didn’t mean for that to be a diss. Anytime I diss somebody … even when I sent those bars to Jay-Z, how subliminal could that be? Like I don’t do subliminal like that.
BallerStatus.com: So let’s revert back time a little bit. When “Talk to Em” came out, if Jay had came back with a response, would you battle Jay head to head, even though you said he’s your favorite rapper?
Joe Budden: He’s one of my favorite rappers, but hell yeah. You’re talking to somebody that would go head to head with anybody, win or lose. Even in a lost, not saying I would lose, because nobody plans on losing. But even in a lost, you take some information, and you learn something. So there’s not anybody in the universe that I wouldn’t go toe to toe with, and that’s not being cocky.
BallerStatus.com: So let’s say Saigon, and Prodigy wanted to do a collabo with you, would you accept it without any problem?
Joe Budden: Yeah definitely. I just reached out to Saigon not too long ago through a mutual friend. I tried to see if he wanted to get on one of the Slaughterhouse joints.
BallerStatus.com: (laughs) Damn you guys are going all in, trying to shut the game down. Y’all doing way too much now.
Joe Budden: Listen man, as far as sh** … I mean, as far as with me, Crook, Joell, and Royce, but at the end of the day, we’re doing this sh** because all of us feel it’s something that hip-hop is missing. You know so much attention is being paid to guys who aren’t the greatest lyricists, and lyricism is kind of being shoved under the rug. So you wanna reach out to guys who still pay attention to lyricism. Regardless of what anybody says, Saigon is still one of those people. So there is no personal beef that I have with anybody that’s greater than the good of hip-hop.
BallerStatus.com: So like, How do you feel is like is getting all this attention and they’re not lyrically up there? Specially, do you feel any of these rappers shouldn’t warrant all this attention?
Joe Budden: No, no, no, no, no. I don’t feel like that. Joe Budden is not a hater. Anybody getting attention, they warrant it for whatever reason it be. Like I’m not the guy to say people shouldn’t be getting attention. I won’t say any names, but just hip-hop in general, right this second is not built for lyricists. It’s not built, and I won’t even say that, because when you’re a lyricist, you could find your way around, but it’s not built for lyricism. Let me say that.
BallerStatus.com: I’m going to move away for the beef. I know you get tired of it at times.
Joe Budden: (laughs) No I’m not really giving you no juicy sh** as far as … I don’t have beef with anybody.
BallerStatus.com: I feel you. I know you and Game. I know you guys made peace. There were rumors about you going to Blackwall Street. Any truth to that?
Joe Budden: No, Uhh…
BallerStatus.com: I heard an Uhh, I don’t know man.
Joe Budden: Cuz no there’s no truth to it. It was nothing more than a conversation between me and him that didn’t even actually materialize fully. It was more like a passive thought. He was like “Soon, I need to talk you about his BlackWall Street.” I was like “Cool, I’ma holla at you”, and that was literally it. Me and Game, out of 30 conversations, that maybe came up half of time. So yeah, I say no. There’s no truth to it.
BallerStatus.com: So is it possible we’ll see Game featured maybe on Padded Rooms?
Joe Budden: No, there is one on Padded Rooms.
BallerStatus.com: Oh really, what’s the track called? Let me know.
Joe Budden: The song is called “The Future.”
BallerStatus.com: So who could we expect production wise on Padded Rooms.
Joe Budden: Umm, got the Klassix, they did a lot on Padded Rooms. Blasta. Blasta beats did a lot on Padded Rooms. Who else? A guy named Future actually did the track me and Game did called “The Future.” Who else is on there? Actually Klassix and Blasta did the majority on Padded Rooms. Dub-B is on there. No Sultan this trip. Padded Rooms is a great body of work. It really is.
BallerStatus.com: I’m glad to hear that. So I guess no Just Blaze?
Joe Budden: Nah. I can’t afford Just Blaze.
BallerStatus.com: A lot of these rappers feel they need A-list production to break into mainstream. Do you feel you need a Just Blaze or Timbaland to do that?
Joe Budden: No, I got a Timbaland track in my computer right now that I paid $100 grand for that never came out, that I never did anything with. So just because you go to these big name producers doesn’t mean, doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to come away a record. When you’re independent, the way I am this second, it doesn’t really make sense to go spend $30, 40, 50, 60, 70 grand on a beat. That doesn’t make sense. You just need to go harder with beat selection. I got a track on my first album called “Give Me A Reason” that Just Blaze produced that everybody hated. So I mean it don’t really guarantee that, but I love Just Blaze, let me say that.
BallerStatus.com: Whatever happened to DJ Clue? You guys still cool?
Joe Budden: Of course.
BallerStatus.com: Back to Halfway House. On “Anything Goes,” you talk about leaving all your problems, and moving on to a better place. Do you ever feel the need sometimes to get away from the game, and just tuning out a little bit?
Joe Budden: No. No, not at all. You got to understand. I don’t watch videos, barely ever do I listen to FM radio. Barely ever do I listen to hip-hop. So I mean I’m already out of the game. I’m not on a major label. Me leaving Def Jam was probably the best thing I could have ever of done in my life. Just for me as a person, the strain, the number strain, the number games is lifted from over of your heads. It just has done wonders for me. People watch Joe Budden TV, and they say “This guy is happy. Who knew?” I was been pretty happy just ’cause I’m so blessed. But umm, life couldn’t be better for me right this second. The 3,100 I sold of Halfway House, the first week like in comparison to the 100,000 I did on my first album on Def Jam, the sentimental aspect and other side of it, quadruples the value.
BallerStatus.com: How do you feel when people label you as the “Pump It Up” guy? What do you think you got to do to remove that label?
Joe Budden: They’re deprived. It’s their lost and not mine. It used to bother me. Now, I just don’t give a f*** because now I’m catering to the people I want to cater to. The more people that do know and find out about me is a blessing, but I’m not out here begging and dying for added attention from fickle fans that don’t really necessarily follow hip-hop. I don’t give a f*** about that.
BallerStatus.com: (laughs) I was watching Joe Budden TV the other day when you’re at the fitted shop getting a hat. Why did you have to air out Marcus Williams like that?
Joe Budden: (laughs) Yo, that’s my man. That’s my guy. People don’t know, but most of the people I speak to, they’re really assholes. All we f***ing do is joke around, and just have a good time. Marcus Williams is one of those people. If his voice had been on speaker phone, people would of heard it. He was lighting me up. He was really dissing the sh** out of me hard. He’s really good at dissing people. I had to take advantage of his voice not being on speaker.
BallerStatus.com: (laughs) You said the dude plays for Duke.
Joe Budden: yeah that was really funny. Real quick, let me just say “F*** Don Nelson,” he better put my n**** in the game. He better put my n**** in the game and stop bullsh**ting. He’s playing these f***ing n****s that’s no where as near nice as my man. I might have to go Golden State and straighten something out. Come through with the hammer or something. (laughs)