Joe Budden joined Brandon Hall and Erin Ashley Simon on this week’s episode of their Grass Routes Podcast. During the hour and 20-minute conversation, they touched on many topics — most notably, mental health.
“In Hip Hop, we conceal everything … in Hip Hop, it was never cool to be vulnerable,” Budden told the show’s hosts when the conversation shifted towards the stigma of mental wellness in Hip Hop. “I’m grateful that today there are so many rappers that talk about it.
“Niggas are killing themselves to stay alive with all of these pills … and molly, lean and whatever shit they’re mixing. We have seen enough death that you’d think something would click. We need people like me, Charles Hamilton and Logic to advocate for [awarness].”
Hall commended Budden for being so open about the topic on Complex’s popular show Everyday Struggle.
“I was proud of you,” he said, denoting that he was aware of the mental state Budden was in during the cypher promoting the Shady XV compilation, which was discussed earlier this year on the show.
The episode in question is episode 167. Joe touched on that specific freestyle when the topic of crying for help through music came up.
“I was in a very dark place and somehow the genius music people and production staff thought it would be a great idea to film this fucking freestyle on the George Washington Bridge,” he explained. “[If] I would’ve jumped then everybody would’ve been shocked and said, ‘We didn’t see this coming’ … How? I have been telling you this shit for a fucking month.”
This sentiment is captured in the verse’s final bars: “These last couple of days I’ve been speaking to my peers, giving them cries for help/ I guess they need to see the tears … but wait, wildest part of all of that is they’ll shoot a suicidal rapper right here on the bridge.”
While on the topic of suicide, Budden told Simon that his darkest period was 1995 to 2004 — during which he’d attempted to commit suicide more than once. When asked if the fame at a young age amplified his mindstate, he noted that while it convoluted things.
“Fame just puts a microscope on things that already exist,” he said
When Hall moved the conversation along to ask him how he reached a place of comfort in his ability to discuss his struggles openly, Budden bluntly credited his retirement. It would never have happened if he were an active rapper, he noted.
“As a rapper, shit changes so much that you have to just focus on getting the job done and taking care of yourself takes a back seat,” he said. “Labels just don’t give a fuck about the best interests of the artist.”
He explained that while he understood it, it was one of the things that turned him off of the industry. Throughout the episode though, Budden is clearly in the best mental state of his life.
“I maybe have three bad days a year,” he said. “Days when I wake up and I have to talk myself off that ledge.”
The conversation then switched to his “retirement,” which many aren’t buying.
“There’s so much more that can be done musically for you,” Hall told Budden. “You haven’t reached your climax.”
The Slaughterhouse member didn’t entirely dismiss future music plans but did clarify that it would never be made as a necessity.
“If I do release new music, just know that it will be my ninth, 10th or 11th source of income … not a necessity to live. Art in its purest form.”
Check out the full interview above.