Joe Budden is the man.
If there’s one specific moment that perfectly sums up why I love Joe Budden, it would be at the 8:20 mark of the following video.
For those who were too lazy to press play, Budden and his former Everyday Struggle co-host DJ Akademiks are having a debate about Lil Uzi Vert’s debut album, Luv Is Rage 2. At one point, Ak tells Budden that it's a concept album. In response, Budden pauses, and, in a moment of incredulous frustration, simply looks directly into the camera, like he’s Jim on The Office.
I’ve watched this clip at least 147 times this week.
Budden is primarily a (retired) musician, and one of the most under-appreciated rappers of the past decade and some change. But he’s also much more. He’s a broadcaster and passionate commentator on the modern rap landscape. He’s boisterous, genuinely hilarious, and he kinda looks like Hancock at the beginning of the movie before he stops drinking.
Before Budden departed the show in late 2017, I became totally enveloped in Complex’s once glorious daily YouTube program Everyday Struggle, a three-headed talk show featuring Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska Alexis. They touched on everything from Eminem’s Trump diss to Kevin Hart cheating on his wife—which was a huge victory for short men across the world, myself included—to more serious topics like XXXTentacion’s dark past.
While Budden's buffet of opinions has been relegated to his weekly podcast and Twitter over the past four months, he remains argumentative and outspoken. He’s like the Oscar The Grouch of rap. (Don’t worry, that’s a compliment; Oscar has always been my favorite Sesame Street character ever since I found out about Elmo's sexual misconduct allegations.)
To the untrained eye, Budden just seems grumpy. But while it'd be easy to write him off as a bitter oldhead, that type of shallow, inaccurate conclusion completely undercuts why many people, like myself, love Budden in the first place.
To me, Budden's intensity stems from a love for rap. Everything about him exudes an overwhelming passion for hip-hop. Even when he went full Sam Kinison on Lil Yachty, he referred to hip-hop as something that “saved his life.”
Budden's passion is tangible and contagious. It’s not anger or contempt that drives his intensity, it’s a love for the art form that put him where he is today. To me, that’s genuinely inspiring, and it’s impossible to not respect it. I still think he should be put in Twitter timeout for saying My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy isn’t a classic but that’s nothing personal.
With all of this in mind, I've decided that it's my main goal in life to get yelled at by Joe Budden. I want to feel that argumentative wrath directed at me like a verbal AK-47. It’s been my dream my whole life. Some kids want to be astronauts. Some kids want to be professional quarterbacks. I just wanted to be yelled at by Joe Budden.
Is that too much to ask?
Mark my words, I’ll find a way. I’ll advance my stand-up career just enough to squeak onto his podcast and I'll say something absurd to instigate a debate.
I'll tell him that I’ve never heard of 2Pac. I’ll tell him that Vanilla Ice is the greatest rapper of all time and that Josh Groban is my favorite member of the Wu-Tang Clan. I’ll mention that if Biggie Smalls didn’t get murdered 21 years ago, he would have died of diabetes 20 years ago.
I’ll say anything I can to start an argument in which Budden is forced to scream in my face and school me. I mean this in the best way possible. To me, getting yelled at by Joe Budden is a badge of honor. Like getting a Purple Heart in Afghanistan or getting chlamydia in Vegas.
Joe, if you’re reading this, I know you’re a busy man. But please, come debate me. I fully intend to lose the debate, I just want to cross “got yelled at by Joe Budden” off my bucket list before I leave this Earth.