Music

Joe Budden: Mood Muzik 3: The Album

Jordan Sargent

The prelude to Joe Budden’s second album proves he can still rap, but if its melodrama seems silly to you, it’s not your fault.


Joe Budden

Mood Muzik 3: The Album

Label: Amalgam Digital
US Release Date: 2008-02-26
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

In 2003, “Pump It Up”, the lead single from Joe Budden’s self-titled major label debut, had reached just inside the top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, though it seemed even more ubiquitous than that. He was enjoying the type of fame that came along with a hit single -- soundtrack appearances, countdown show love back when that used to mean something, getting dissed by lower-tier rappers, etc. -- and seemed to be someone we’d be hearing from well into the latter part of this decade (not unlike, say, Fabolous). By January 2006, if you wanted any indication of how Budden’s career was going, all you needed to do was to look at the name of the mixtape he had released a month earlier: Mood Muzik 2: Can It Get Any Worse?.

The source of Budden’s ire: label woes. Nothing new, especially as far as major-label rap goes, but Budden’s now five-year-long bench-warming is especially noteworthy because of his back-and-forth tussling with ex-Def Jam president Jay-Z (both Budden and Jay are no longer with the label). Their feud dates back to Budden’s “Pump It Up” days, when Jay famously jumped on that song’s remix and supposedly fired subliminal disses at Budden. Both sides have denied that Jay’s “Pump It Up” verse is the source of the ill will, but it hasn’t helped squelch the thought that Jay purposefully blackballed Budden while both were at Def Jam.

To his credit, Budden hasn’t receded from the limelight quietly. Since the release of Joe Budden, he’s kept himself relevant by constantly putting freestyles on the Internet, releasing mixtapes (the latter of which, the aforementioned Mood Muzik 2, was a regional and web hit), and even by becoming a short-lived member of the reputable blogging team on the website of XXL Magazine.

He was officially dropped from Def Jam this past October and was quickly picked up by Amalgam Digital, the label set to release Mood Muzik 3: The Album, Budden’s pseudo-new record that’s acting as the prelude to his now-mythical second album, Padded Room.

He doesn’t seem to be comforted by any of this, though: the opening couplet of MM3 is “The soundtrack to my life is like CNN first shit / Images like on CNN, but worst shit”. That first song, “Dear Diary”, lays the melodrama on thick, and the rest of the album follows suit. The album is choc-full of dimestore Dipset beats, all weeping strings and wailing, canned samples, presumably picked because Budden aimed for the beats to mirror his gut-wrenched lyrics. Fine enough idea, but if MM3 feels slightly silly to you, it’s not your fault.

For comparison, Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam rapper Freeway released his excellent second album this past November four years after his debut. His style is similar to Budden’s: both have gruff, urgent voices that sound inherently pained, but Free tempered his album with slick synth tracks that helped elevate his howling-soul songs to near epochal levels. (That doesn’t factor in respective recording budgets, but the intentions remain.)

Budden spends most of MM3
in LiveJournal mode, spilling his guts about the Def Jam drama, moving between fuck-the-world chest-beating (“This ain’t about radio / I’m beyond the dial) and gnawing self-doubt (“Is anybody feeling me still?”). The rest is saved for rote girl chasing and gun talk, and that’s where MM3 starts to lose its way. Even though only his true fans could really be compelled by a whole album of him whining about getting jerked around by the industry, it’s still endlessly more compelling than whatever else he has to say.

We see this evidenced best in the nearly eight-minute-long “All of Me”. The song distills the most interesting parts of MM3 -- the paranoia Budden can’t seem to brush off, how he sometimes frames his situation into a larger context, his often good punch lines -- into one song, and matches it with an appropriately lonely-sounding beat, where a forlorn flute seems to harbor no sympathies.

The album’s dreary back half gets a kick in the ass on “Warfare”, where Budden trades bars with the snarling (and also recently dropped) Joell Ortiz, one of the game’s brightest young MCs. It’s a study in dichotomy: Budden’s gravely voice versus Ortiz’s nasally one, a rapper (Budden) who’s beaten by the game versus one who’s still optimistic that there’s something for him in rap.

What MM3 reveals about Budden’s real second album is anybody’s guess. MM3 sounds like a mixtape, its beats are barely there and most of its references already dated (if you aren’t already rolling your eyes at a Fiascogate punchline, imagine, say, five months from now). And on top of that it doesn’t show us anything we don’t already know, namely that Budden is pissed, but he can also still spit. Interested parties can hit YouTube (or Budden-backing mp3 blog Nah Right), Mood Muzik 3 is die-hards only.

5

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image