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Joe Budden's hip hop return is underwhelming

By Emily Herbst
On February 6, 2013

Following high anticipation and a lot of chatter from the hip hop world, Joe Budden has just released his fifth solo studio album after a three-year span since his last, "Escape Route." A regular member of the rap group Slaughterhouse (Royce Da 5'9, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I), Budden has once again taken time to focus on his individual career. However, few would guess that after listening to this EP. 14 of the 17 tracks are collaborations, which is simply too much. Every hip hop/rap fan recognizes the value in a collaboration; some even turn out better than if the rapper had done it solo. Joe Budden, however, chose the worst in rap to share his songs with.

Additionally, it seems that Budden has taken a turn for the worst in relation to lyrics and substance - or lack thereof. "No Love Lost" is teeming with the worst characteristics rap can have; the trash-rap conception seems to have produced a figurative child of Lil Wayne, post-quality Wiz Khalifa and the ignorant garbage of 2-Chainz and Chief Keef- if one could imagine such a fiasco. You might call it a ratchet smoothie. And sorry, but French Montana doesn't help the cause. Joe Budden has never been coined as a "conscious" rapper, but neither has been labelled an "unconscious" one, which is why this album is both a surprise and downer. Rap connoisseurs should stay away ... far away. The only permissible place for this is the club.

It's difficult to think while listening to the bulk of the album. The intro is pretty appealing to the ears, a 30-second track with a female vocalist, entitled "Our First Again." But it's really just a repeated phrase, and doesn't drop hints about the subject or point of the album. It effectively leads us into the smoothness of the next song, "Top of the World," a song featuring Kirko Bangz.

"She Don't Put It Down" features Lil Wayne...which alone should keep potential listeners away. In his usual garbled and half-conscious vocal "style", Wayne adds about as much to the song as expected: he doesn't. Conversely, Tank (the other feature), has real talent and real vocals and in turn compensates for his colleague. The three of them scoff at a female character, but do so with jealousy.

Finally, we get to the sixth track "Castles" - the first which features Joe Budden and only Joe Budden. "Love can't be lost, I know exactly where I put it" is the major line of the song, and also the way by which we enter Budden's mind for a moment. He expresses disdain towards his own lack of commitment. It's sort of a "one that got away" tale. As we all know, the life of the rap artist has trials of its own, and having to tear oneself away from many women is often one of them. Altogether, the song is decent. A similarly tolerable one is "Tell Him Somethin," the other slow jam of the collection. Maybe that's the style Joe Budden should've stuck with.

There's not too much to reflect upon within the remaining tracks. By the last one, Budden may have put most listeners to sleep and defeated the purpose of a "full" album - which in this case is more like "overcapacity." Skip this one and instead wait patiently for a quality rap album drop.

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