3 November, 2010@5:00 pm
Seven years ago, Joe Budden dropped “Pump It Up,” scoring the biggest hit of his career. And while the track went hard in the clubs and the car, it was hardly Budden at his best. Fast forward seven years later and “Jersey Joe” is in full stride on the independent circuit. Mood Muzik 4 – like the three volumes that preceded it – wouldn’t be possible under the old system of major labels dominating and dictating the way artists make and distribute music. The seventeen track opus is a wild departure from everything that made “Pump It Up” a hit. Budden isn’t at his best when rhyming for the club – he’s at his best when being himself.
Mood Muzik 4 is long on rhymes and short on superficial material. Tahiry’s ex goes hard in the paint from the jump on “Pray 4 Me.” Over a Van Halen sample, he raps a semi-autobiographical verse but finds time to shout out Travis Barker and the late DJ AM: “When AM died, I was staring at Travis Barker/wishing there was something I could say to make him cheer up/so when I prayed he teared up/I ain’t wanna see him go through that/The same shit that I feel/just never show you that.”
The bulk of the album takes on the same dark, somber tone that’s dominated Budden’s career since he jumped off the Def Jam ship. “Aftermath” finds Joe flipping effortlessly on a number of topics like the music industry (“I know some niggas with platinum plaques and bronze paper”) or fronting (“they passing the fake off as the real like Bryan Pumper’s jeweler”). The album isn’t all about sonning wack emcees, as Budden’s ode to the special people in his life, “Inseparable” will strike a chord with those reminiscing about friends and family living and deceased while “Follow Your Lead” finds Joe shedding the trappings of materialism.
The guest list is kept short and sweet. While Budden rides solo more often than not, all the guests bring the album up a notch. Fellow Slaughterhouse member Crooked I lends a hand on “Sober Up” while Styles P and Pusha T ride with Joey over the saxophone heavy track “Dessert 4 Thought.” The album’s posse cut, “Remember The Titans” finds Fabolous, Lloyd Banks and Royce The 5’9 tearing through the hook-less beat with reckless abandon.
To be clear, this album is formulaic, but in the way that fans of dope beats and dope rhymes will enjoy. Budden finds a beat he likes, spits fire over it (with the occasional guest). Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Whereas artists on the major are forced to collab with MC Hot Right Now or the six figure producer because they have to, Budden is doing Budden because he wants to. This is a stripped down album with production that allows Budden to go hard even when he’s being emo. With no unbearable tracks – but one very forgettable skit, in the form of “Mop Salad” – Mood Muzik 4 succeeds because Joey does what many in hip hop talk about but refuse to do: Keep it real.
In conjunction with TheWellVersed.Com
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