2016 has been a transitional year for Joe Budden.
His I’ll Name This Podcast Later podcast grew significantly from its debut a year ago and turned him into a significant cultural voice in the online space. But it also earned him fans not even familiar with his music, something he’s very open about. The platform for his opinions became a double-edged sword when it led to one particular beef with some guy from Toronto.
Sending the first lyrical assault through “Making Of A Murderer (Part 1),” he worked with Hip Hop/EDM producer Araabmuzik on the track. Continuing his working relationship with the Rhode Island beatsmith for the upcoming Rage & The Machine project, Budden seems to have the perfect set-up for his first 100 percent independent release.
If Rage & The Machine Does Well, There’s Enough In The Stash For A Part 2
HipHopDX: Safe to say that 2016 has been a crazy year for you. How are you feeling today?
Joe Budden: I feel good and positive. Positive vibrations and good energy. God is amazing. Nothing to really feel bad about.
DX: Really digging the “By Law” track. What kind of headspace are you at as a lyricist right now?
Joe Budden: I appreciate that. Thank you. Same space I’m always in as a lyricist. Just put your best foot forward and do the best with the vocabulary that you can. That’s always my mindstate.
DX: What was the end goal when you first initially started working with Araabmuzik for Rage & The Machine?
Joe Budden: I don’t know if there was an end goal. The goal is always to make the best music that you can possibly make and the best project you can make. For me, my own personal goal is to always make a better project than my previous effort. Araab came in and rejuvenated and inspired me. The music came out sounding really good. I shocked myself and I shocked him. He shocked me. It was a really enjoyable experience creating. One of the first joints done didn’t end up making this version, Part 1 of Rage & The Machine, I’m not sure what it was, but it didn’t make the album.
DX: You just mentioned Rage & The Machine as Part 1. Is there a second one in the works?
Joe Budden: Yes, we are actually. Well, I’m working on the second one. I started already. I didn’t even count the number of tracks. I just took the beats that I really loved and just recorded to all of them. We knew we wanted to keep the album a brief listen. We didn’t want to overdo it. We kept it at 11 joints. There’ll be a Part 2 coming soon. We just hammered them out because we both love Hip Hop and are passionate about it. So, we have to continue. If the project does well, we’ll continue. If it doesn’t do well, we’ll abandon ship.
DX: I spoke with Araabmuzik some time ago about his blending of Hip Hop and EDM elements. How much will Rage & The Machine reflect that production-wise?
Joe Budden: Not too much EDM on this album, even though that’s where I think Hip Hop is headed. Sonically, it’s how the music sounds. Hip Hop songs are sounding more like other genres and less like Hip Hop. So, either a new genre will be birthed soon or we’ll morph into something else. A lot of the rappers now are doing something other than what I would classify as Hip Hop. The goal should be to broaden the genre as much as we can. I think we’ll hear more electronic and up-tempo sounds developing. We’re hearing a lot of it anyway. We’ll get to that eventually. I want to take advantage of all of Araab’s talents and EDM is one of them. I don’t think EDM is a far cry from New Jersey club music. If we could find a bridge to that, that would be great. Hopefully on the next project that could happen, but not so much on this one.
DX: With that, how does a lyricist such as yourself survive in an age where that’s beginning to matter less and less commercially.
Joe Budden: We’re still in the era of rap. Fortunately for me, there are still enough people out there who pride themselves on being fans of lyricism, good capability and just a good emcee skill set. I still have a career 15 years later thank the Lord. That’s the beautiful thing about rap, it’s like having a jump shot. If you can rap, you will always be able to rap.
DX: Where’d you get the idea to jump out of a plane and make the Rage & The Machine release date announcement from?
Joe Budden: I always wanted to jump out of a plane. It only made sense for me to combine the two ideas and announceme the release date while jumping out of a plane. Just wanted to kill two birds with one stone. I knocked it off my bucket list. I had a real good time doing it.
DX: You’re also supporting Rage & The Machine with a tour. Must be good to still make the rounds nationally, right?
Joe Budden: I’m grateful for that as well. Anytime you’re afforded the opportunity to meet your fans, hear their story and help them, that’s always great. I’m blessed. I’m extremely fortunate and grateful for the position that God has put me in. I feel great, my energy is high and my passion is high. Everything that needs to be high is high.
“Radio & Broadcasting Is Always Something That I’ve Been Into. For me, The Podcast Was Not Only Good Practice, But A Way To Talk To The Fans Yet Again”
DX: Your fans really ride for you.
Joe Budden: I’ve been one of the artists who prided himself on fan interaction for my entire career. Before the internet, it was a part of people’s marketing team. I was always trying to talk to my fans and gauge their thought process and how they felt as consumers of the music. That hasn’t changed and it’s stayed consistent. We have all types of media that allow us to do that with Twitter, Instagram and all the social networks. That’ll never change. I’ll always want to hear from my fans whether one or one million.
DX: Another way you’ve interacted with fans is through your podcast. Looking back at your first crack at it, did you expect it to go as far as it has?
Joe Budden: I did the Hot 97 morning show in 2004. Radio and broadcasting are always something that I’ve been into. For me, the podcast was not only good practice but a way to talk to the fans yet again. Anytime I can have an open dialogue with fans and consumers of my music, I’m going to always jump at the opportunity. The podcast has not only been a lot of fun, but we’ve been very successful. We’ve got a lot of listeners and we’re looking to grow and mature everything. That’s pretty fun. The podcast is unique in the sense that people who may not necessarily be a fan of Joe Budden music, may not mind hearing Joe Budden talk and speak about music and things related to culture. That’s pretty good.
DX: Even with the podcast, do you feel like you are a part of what we call media, or separated as an artist?
Joe Budden: I’m separated when I’m in artist mode and when I’m in podcast mode, I am 100 percent a part of the media. You kind of have to tread carefully in that, but anyone with a successful podcast makes you a part of the media.
DX: It’s almost as if we and a host of other outlets can call an album underwhelming while you’ll get the flak for saying the same thing.
Joe Budden: That comes with the territory. Those were decisions that I had to weigh prior to dedicating myself to the podcast. Once you decide to do one, you want to do it to the best of your abilities. People feel a certain way when it comes from me because people have a hard time separating the artist from podcaster, but I don’t have a problem hopping into the booth as a podcaster, rapping and engaging with anyone who wants to. I think that’s the beauty in it. I can speak like the media, but the media won’t respond in rap form.
DX: Do you think you, alongside something like N.O.R.E.’s Drink Champs podcast, are changing the power dynamic in regards to the media?
Joe Budden: No, but I will say that it’s groundbreaking for successful artists with N.O.R.E. being one and myself being another to conduct successful podcast. It’s proven that this can be done. I’m probably more of an innovator or trendsetter because we haven’t seen many people sell music and do a podcast. Not many rappers anyway. This is new territory.
DX: What’s the future looking like?
Joe Budden: Who the fuck can predict the future? I don’t know the future of the podcast. I plan to grow it and mature it. I’ll be improving in the areas where it needs to be improved. Other than that, planning is God’s sense of humor. I hope it’ll continue to do well and grow. We’ve been extremely successful for about a year and a half. We’re passionate in something we’ll continue to do. Hopefully, we’ll see more rappers start their own. We want to hear from people who are savvy and intelligent in their fields. You want to hear from those people.