“Writing has always been therapeutic for me. That’s how I started doing this. It was poetry — a journal — to relieve some stress.”
“Jersey” Joe Budden
Joe is a hip-hop performer. An article about his upcoming album, “No Love Lost,” caught my attention because he sounds like a creative soul who’s changing and pushing himself to the next level. I admire this kind of drive in an artist, whatever his calling. While some of the cuts on his new album sound lighthearted, a reviewer described other songs as “introspective, ruminative, confessional and not a little pained” and called Joe “an artist who has always treated writing as a form of bloodletting.” Sounds like a pretty serious guy.
In “No Love Lost,” he seems to cover a lot of emotional territory, from addiction to acting badly to anticipating the future and taking responsibility for it — and he doesn’t apologize for it, either. While most hip-hop has a swagger to it, Joe was going for something different from the beginning and using it as a tool to explore feelings.
As Joe tells it, ““It’s much more acceptable now to rap about your emotions. In 2003, that wasn’t one of the prerequisites. You needed your girl songs, your club songs. But guys like Drake and Kanye West and even Jay-Z did start doing more introspective rhymes, and people learned there was an audience for that. People yearned for it. I’ve had a really up-and-down career, and a lot of up-and-down relationships. I’ve burned some bridges. This album is to let everyone know that what happened is in the past.”
“Rather than just putting words over, I’m always looking for the perfect marriage between lyrics and instrumentation,” says Budden, who’s prized by fans for his storytelling talent. During a down period in his career, he joined a group of emcees; being with them has inspired him to push to the next level: “We don’t look at it as practice, but we’re all constantly trying to improve. We throw around different flows, different ways to approach and hear the beat.”
The openhearted way in which Joe views his creative calling is refreshing. It reminds me that wherever we are, we can find new ways to improve our craft. Working with other people can also push us to grow. When Joe was just starting out, he used to perform at a restaurant. As he recalls, “It was there that I battled the best rappers in Jersey City. I was able to develop. I’m not where I am today without that.” Write on, Joe, write on!