Is Joe Budden Holding Back? @JoeBudden

Joe Budden x Drake
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When talk began of Joe Budden and Drake facing off, some commentators had the result wrapped up before the battle even began. All fanboyism, Joe Budden is the better lyricist, but Drake’s fan base is so large and passionate that whatever he said in response would drown out popular consensus – in a win for Drake.

And yes, that is accurate. But Joe Budden himself has been aware of this and makes a clear point of stating that he doesn’t care about memes, and ‘fanboys’, he is doing it for the culture.

Now Budden has previous with battling MC’s. Popular consensus states that he quite easily took on the whole of G-Unit (including The Game) and took home a solid win. Proving Budden can hold his own in a battle. So Budden dropped a diss. Then another, and another. Then Drake released the song that started the whole thing in the first place and then Budden released another diss. So that’s four disses. And you know, as talented as Joe is, honestly they’re not that great.

Listening to the first diss and the rest, it becomes obvious that the reason these disses aren’t amazing is because Joe’s holding back, and while that does show his considerable talent, that is also everything that is wrong with Hip Hop.

In Hip Hop there is no better way to promote a project than with a little contrived beef. It’s so popular it even works outside of hip hop. It builds hype, drives sales, it’s a popular tactic. Said rapper will make comments on Twitter, stir up hype, delete tweets and be ambiguous until the albums first week sales are released, then all of a sudden everyone is on best friend terms again.

As much as Joe Budden professes to be a ‘real ass ni**a!’ on his popular podcast; he has become part of the contrived process. All four of Budden’s disses, while perfect demonstrations of his lyricism, also lacked the carpet bombing feel any good diss has. A flurry of punchlines that won’t let up, that results in quotable’s floating around for weeks, sometimes longer. ‘Afraid’ is by far the strongest of the four. With some great lines on the latter part of the song, really expecting punchlines from a diss record is the bare minimum really. Part of the problem is – with Budden four diss songs in, at this point in most rap battles the diss records tend to at least start to get a little tired. Making it evident that Budden is holding back.

Put all four disses together and you’d have maybe half a solid record. But separately, at best they’re decent. Speaking on his podcast:

‘So I put that out. … I’m gonna be on his a** and he won’t do it again – Charlamagne, the part you’re missing is I got 20 Drake disses already somewhere holed up.’

Whether he literally means 20 or not; either way Joe has a lot planned for Drake. An educated guess would suggest that they’ll be a lot more vicious than anything Budden has released thus far. If you’ve ever listened to his podcast, you’ll know Budden is a rap nerd. He studies the game and is aware of just how calculated Drake is. And you can bet that Budden is 10x as calculated.

As much as we all love Drake’s Grammy nominated ‘Back To Back’, no one talks about ‘Charged Up’. ‘Charged Up’ was Drake’s initial response to Meek Mill accusing him of using a ghost writer that resulted in the biggest rap ‘beef’ in years. Now of course everyone is on the 6 God’s side, but before this beef it was a different story. The smart money was on Meek and when Drake dropped the tepid ‘Charged Up’. The war was Meeks to lose, and we know how that turned out. But Drake dropped ‘Charged Up’ on purpose. He knew he would: 1. Lower everyone’s expectations and 2. Lower Meek’s guard and allow ‘Back To Back’ be the last word on the whole thing. Drake reportedly even had another diss ‘3 Peat’ ready to go even before Meek’s first response.

This is what Budden’s counting on, hence the 20 disses. Recently Drake stated he is recording a new mixtape that will likely drop in August. All the while dissing Budden between songs on stage. Meaning by next month the war will really heat up. Drake will drop a response and Budden’s disses will step up and we’ll finally see the side lyricist that Budden keeps referring to.

But while ‘Back To Back’ is a great song/diss, all of this premeditated rap beef does result in slightly less entertaining Hip Hop. Think back to last years highly anticipated Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight. Built up with literal years of tough talk, the stage was set for these two incredibly talented fighters to beat the breaks off each other. What we got was Pacquiao fighting with everything he had and Mayweather strategically defending his undefeated title. Of course that makes sense, but for the fan? Underwhelming as Hell. We wanted to see to fighters at their peak, in the same vein as an Ali or Tyson fight. But those days are over. At the multi million dollar level those in entertainment are more concerned with preserving their legacies than being entertainment.

What we really want is for Budden to unleash everything he has at Drake in the first round, and then for Drake to do the same. And then whoever can keep making incredible diss records 4 rounds in – they are the winner. These endless jabs when we know Budden is capable of more, are draining all the excitement out of the battle. It’s quickly becoming one long teaser trailer.

But of course there’s still hope. Drake has the mixtape. Budden has the disses. So hopefully this whole thing can heat up before the summer’s over. The ball is in Drake’s court.