Joe Budden Interview

Joe Budden
Artist:Joe Budden
Next Project:Padded Room (May '08)
Twitter:Joe Budden on Twitter
Website:Joe Budden's Website

In June 2003, Joe Budden released his self-titled debut album courtesy of Def Jam Records.  In the years to follow, Budden fully expected to release a second and third album, since the aforementioned debut was released to critical acclaim.  Unfortunately, Budden spent the last five years playing a waiting game with the label, ending with his departure from Def Jam this past fall.

Now an independent artist and loving every second of his new found artistic freedom, Budden is set to release an album version of his latest “Mood Muzik 3” mixtape on February 26, followed by a full-length LP, “Padded Room,” this upcoming May.

In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJZ,” Joe Budden steps inside the booth to talk about his plans to release three albums before 2009, why he never would have signed his Def Jam recording contract if he knew what he does today, and which character’s superpowers on the TV show Heroes he’d like to obtain.

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Joe Budden Interview Transcription

DJ Booth:  What’s goin’ on ya’ll?  It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a man in a good mood, and rightfully so.  Please welcome Jersey native and mix tape master, Joe Budden – how you doin’?

Joe Budden:  I’m pretty good, and yourself?

DJ Booth:  I’m great, Joe.  Let’s jump off, jump off – how you been since the start of 2008?

Joe Budden:  Aw, I’ve been blessed, it’s been great for me, I’m lookin’ forward to doin’ a lot of big things.  I’ve been doin’ a lot of big things: a lot of traveling, a lot of recording – I’m excited.

DJ Booth:  “Mood Muzik 3.5” is going to drop on February the 26th and you have a new full-length studio album, “Padded Room,” coming up, so come the end of the year, what will fans be saying about Joe Budden?

Joe Budden:  Well, come the end of the year, I actually hopefully will be putting a third album out.  It’s premature for me to give it away or give it a name or anything, but that’s just my plan.  Hopefully everything goes according to plan.  But by the end of the year, the fans hopefully should say, “That boy’s grindin’,” ‘cause that’s really just the bottom line: I’m workin’ hard and bustin’ my ass tryin’ to make up for lost time.

DJ Booth:  Certainly.  Three albums in one year is quite a precedent, something that we haven’t seen any artist even attempt to do.  What do you think will happen if you release three albums during the course of this year, all to crticial acclaim?  What will that do for Joe Budden, the artist, Joe Budden the rapper, and Joe Budden the man?

Joe Budden:  Personally, I record every day, and it comes down to my situation over at Def Jam when I was recording and I was unable to release music.  It’s one of my short-term goals, to be able to actually record music and release it simultaneously and not just hold on to it.  Hopefully I get the attention of some people who maybe weren’t checkin’ for Joe Budden prior to “Mood Muzik,” or prior to “Padded Room.”  One fan at a time; that’s what I’m workin’ on.

DJ Booth:  With “Mood Muzik 3.5,” and “The Padded Room,” both being distributed through Amalgam Digital, what made you decide that his was the right company for you to move forward with your career?

Joe Budden:  I’m a firm believer in everything going digital, in a matter of years.  I wanted to kind of be one of the pioneers, one of the people that jump on that bandwagon early.  Amalgam had a vision, I also had a vision, and we just saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things.  It just felt like the ideal situation to get into.

DJ Booth:  Once these two albums are out, what is Joe Budden currently looking for in a major record deal?

Joe Budden:  If I were to go the major route, again, attention would probably be the first and foremost.  You want attention, you want support, you want to be treated properly, and I don’t wanna have to go anywhere and teach people how to treat me.  As far as money, acclaim and fame, those things are a plus – accolades – they’re all great.  But like I said: most important to me right now is being able to release music and have an astounding relationship with whoever would be distributing the music.

DJ Booth:  Joe, considering the seismic difference in record sales from when you first jumped on the major scene, do you need to sign with a major label, or do you want to sign with a major label?

Joe Budden:  No, no, not at all.  It’s not a necessity, not at all.  I was fortunate enough to have gone through the major label process and kind of have the inside scoop on some things, some information I wouldn’t have normally had.  To go from a major to an independent, I don’t think it’s an easy transition.  I’ve already got my core fan base that’s going to go with me wherever I go, throughout all of my travels.  You don’t need to be at a major, not at all.  Technology being the way it is, and record sales being the way it is, there are not too many things that you need to depend on a label for that you can’t go out and do yourself.

DJ Booth:  I read some rumors online; I’d love for you to clear some things up for me.

Joe Budden:  Let’s do it!

DJ Booth:  There’s some back-and-forth whether or not you had talked to Shady and Aftermath regarding a deal on the table – what’s the word there?

Joe Budden:  No, no.  Don’t have any deal on the table at Aftermath/Shady.  Regarding talks with a few people, sure, but since I’ve been outside I’ve been in talks with plenty of people.

DJ Booth:  Probably everybody.

Joe Budden:  Yeah, it’s funny, that’s the only rumor to come out of my talks with people.  I am unsigned, and in the foreseeable future I don’t plan on going to Shady.

DJ Booth:  In “Roll Call,” you threw some jabs at the old label regarding the priorities –

Joe Budden:  And it felt great.

DJ Booth:  Jay, Kanye, Jeezy are obviously at the top of that list.  But likewise, most labels have that same problem.  You look at Shady/Aftermath, they have artists like Stat Quo, or Bobby Creekwater, who signed back in ‘05.  They haven’t dropped anything.  Do you think just across the board, majors in general, it’s just not the right time?

Joe Budden:  No.  Certain majors just know what they’re doin’, and got a good grip on the dynamic of what’s happening, and some don’t.  I think Def Jam happened to be one of the labels that really didn’t have a good grip on things that were going on.  I’ll say that – that’s my political answer.

DJ Booth:  Let’s go back for a second.  In the song “All Of Me,” you spit the line, “I just wanted the world to see that I was for real with it/ wanted a deal, got it, couldn’t deal with it.”  Explain to me exactly what you couldn’t deal with.

Joe Budden:  I couldn’t deal with anything in my situation: the hurdles that you have to go through, the trials and tribulations, all the rigmarole, everything I went through at Def Jam, per se.  When you’re young and you’re comin’ up, and you dream of gettin’ this record deal, and then you actually get it, and, you know, its apples and oranges from everything that you pictured.  The line was pretty self-explanatory to me: once I got in my major label agreement, I definitely couldn’t deal with it.  It was drivin’ me crazy, givin’ me gray hairs at an early age.

DJ Booth:  And that’s not good…

Joe Budden:  Not at all.  I don’t wanna join the Hair Club For Men or anything.

DJ Booth:  [laughter] Well, later in life, it might be a good endorsement for you.  You might make some nice money doing something like that.  Just not yet.

Joe Budden:  [laughter] Yeah; they can play “Pump It Up,” in the background of the commercial.

DJ Booth:  Exactly.  Yeah, pump those hairs up – those follicles need to grow!  Joe, knowing what you know about label politics and corporate BS, regardless of the success that you did see on your debut, would you still have inked your signature on that Def Jam recording contract?

Joe Budden:  No.  Nope, nope, nope, nope nope.  Definitely not.  I would have had a clause in my contract; I would’ve definitely put some fine print in my contract that said, “If the president leaves, I’m leaving.”  That’d be the bottom line there.  The people that signed me at Def Jam ended up leaving shortly after I released my album.  So then it’s like, I was in a whole different world, I was at a whole different label, a label ran more like Arista instead of Def Jam, and I didn’t sign to Arista, I signed to Def Jam.  So, no, I probably would not have signed that.

DJ Booth:  Well, June of ‘03, of course, the album dropped.  It was released to critical acclaim, units started flying off store shelves.  At the time, how did you envision the next five years?  So, “2008, I’m gonna be…” where?

Joe Budden:  2008, I really planned on being on my fourth studio album.  Yeah, I could’ve never envisioned things goin’ this way in a million years.  But, I’m a firm believer in my higher power havin’ a plan, and he’s never wrong, and he’s not open to suggestions.  I’m sure that everything [has] happened for a reason.  When I put my first album out, it happened so quickly – I got signed in 2002 and put an album out in 2003; for an East Coast artist, for an artist in general, (like you just finished talking about Stat Quo and a few other guys,) it doesn’t generally happen that fast, where you get signed and put an album out.  I think the time in between albums, as much as it was not anticipated, it was much-needed, and very helpful, very useful.  I’ve done nothing but hone my craft, and get better, and learn, and gather information in the process.  So I’m grateful for it in retrospect.

DJ Booth:  It’s obviously hard to foresee recording an album and then having it be shelved for multiple years, but is there anything you could’ve done during that entire waiting game to change how it all worked out?

Joe Budden:  No, I don’t think so.  During the delay, in the four years, I was doing different things in hopes that we would be able to release a sophomore album.  I was open to suggestions, I was open-minded, I was tryin’ different things, and to no avail.  I can’t today say I could’ve done something differently, ‘cause in actuality, I did everything that I was asked to do, I did some other things.  I went on my own tours, and I tried to work my own records, I tried to make the best music that I could possibly make, and then nothing was ever good enough.  I can sit here today and say that with no regrets.

DJ Booth:  The title of that album was going to be, “The Growth.”  Do you find it ironic, that since you weren’t able to release the album, “The Growth” was stunted?

Joe Budden:  The irony in that is the growth was happening, which is why my second studio album, the title won’t be “The Growth.”  I wasn’t able to put the album out, but in the process I was maturing, and I was learning, and I was growing still.  Like I said, everything happens for a reason, so I’m not really mad at it.  I’m mad at the fact that I won’t be using that title anymore.  In the end, all of that music has been leaked to the Internet, and leaked to the streets, and some of it’s been on “Mood Muzik 2,” “Mood Muzik 3.”

DJ Booth:  Okay, so your next album, “Padded Room,” it’s going to drop this May.  Delve into what the album’s gonna be about…

Joe Budden:  Well, I chose the name “Padded Room,” because, when I’m in the booth, it would be the padded room.  When I’m in the booth, I can say a lot of things and speak about a lot of things that normally I wouldn’t be able to speak about to a friend or to family or to a crowd.  A lot of times, the things that I say, if you had to categorize it, they would probably call me nuts or crazy.  So, you add that aspect of “The Padded Room,” which would be almost like an insane asylum, like I need to be in a straitjacket or something.  The album is gonna be typical Joe Budden, it’s gonna be very personal, very lyrical, very conceptual.  Musically, sonically, everything’s gonna match.  I’m just really setting the bar high for myself once again.  That’s how I look at things now: I’m not in a competition with any other artist, anything that’s goin’ on – I’m strictly competing with myself.  It won’t be so dark, that’s the one thing.  It won’t be so dark but it’ll be very cohesive, it’ll be a great, great album.  Like I said, I’m very anxious for people to hear it.

DJ Booth:  So it’s going to shed some sunlight on the moody music that we’ve come to expect from the last few mix tapes…

Joe Budden:  Definitely, definitely.  Just gonna expand on a few topics.  It’ll be like the offspring of “Mood Muzik.”

DJ Booth:  Our resident album reviewer, Nathan S., had the chance to listen in full to “Mood Muzik 3,” and gave it four out of five stars.  I’m going to read a quote (from the review) to you in our “He said what?!” segment.  After I read it, either agree with the assessment, disagree, or I’ll even give you the option to completely abstain from comment.  “The knock on Budden is that, for all the intricate wordplay, his delivery can sometimes get repetitive.  And that’s true to an extent, but that’s like complaining that your Bentley has a scratch – it’s still one of the best cars on the road.”

Joe Budden:  I can agree, I can agree with that.

DJ Booth:  Being that you’ve had so long to work, like you said, on your lyrics, your delivery, and your rhyme patterns, do you feel right now, this is the best Joe Budden has ever been at?

Joe Budden:  Hm… the answer to that is yes, but, I don’t feel that I’m in my prime in any shape, form, or fashion.  I don’t think that I’ve hit my peak yet.  I’m twenty-seven years old, I’ll be twenty-eight in August, and even that quote you said – I have some things that I’ve been workin’ on, such as delivery, wordplay, breath control, just a lot of other things that artists work on, that the listener may not be listening for.  The scary part is I’ll finally hit my peak in another two or three years.

DJ Booth:  So two or three more years, and, hopefully, two or three or four more albums?

Joe Budden:  Oh, definitely, definitely.  A few more albums, a few more years, I’ll be like Peter Petrelli in Heroes.  I’ll be some type of rap super-monster or something.

DJ Booth:  [laughter]  If you were able to be cast for a show like Heroes, and you got the chance to sit down with the producers and work your character out, Joe, what would you want as your one superhero quality?

Joe Budden:  I couldn’t call that.  I would actually wanna be like Sylar.  I dunno if people are familiar with that show, but Sylar’s the guy who just builds everyone else’s power and combines it with his own, and he’s just gonna beat everybody up.  I wouldn’t wanna be limited to just one power.

DJ Booth:  Okay, that’s fair.  What if you were able to steal any of the performance skills of any artists who have ever rapped before you, would anybody’s skills be something you’d be interested in stealing?

Joe Budden:  Nope.  Not at all.

DJ Booth:  Or borrowing?

Joe Budden:  Nope.

DJ Booth:  Temporarily?

Joe Budden:  Not a one.

DJ Booth:  Joe, give everybody a website or a MySpace page so they can find out more about the February 26th release of “Mood Muzik 3.5,” and your upcoming release, “Padded Room.”

Joe Budden:  Well, you can always check me on my personal MySpace page, which is  You can check me out on, and you can always be updated over there at  We look forward to having a really, really, really big year.  I want to thank all the fans for the love and support and the patience, and it’s goin’ down.

DJ Booth:  I thank you for your time, joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth, and I sincerely wish you nothing but the best of luck; I’m just glad you’re back on the scene, givin’ everybody that Joe Budden music that they’ve wanted for so long.

Joe Budden:  You and me both.  I appreciate the time.  Same to you, Z.

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