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iHD Reviews & Editorials screen-shot-2016-07-01-at-10-34-59-am

Published on July 1st, 2016 | by Rasheem Johnson

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Editorial | Joe Budden, Jay Z, and Drake: A Triangle of Quasi Beef and Frenemies

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”- an ancient proverb, important function in foreign policy, and now a hallmark in a well-executed battle rap. But to understand the genius of that battle rap, we’ve got to go back, way back to the year 2003: a time of big ass white tees and Jason Mraz fedoras.

Before Joe Budden was a reality TV star and…podcast star (I’m not sure how those things work- do you make money off that?), he had one of the biggest party records of ’03 on one of Just Blaze’s best and most recognizable beats of all time. That song was “Pump it Up”, and if you’re not one of those dudes that have every Mood Muzik mixtape it’s probably the only song you can name by Budden. Admit it, you still think his last name is Buddens. I’m tempted myself to call him “Buddens”.

Despite Buddens—Budden’s shortcomings, “Pump it Up” was and still is one of the best party records out there. Budden’s flow is untouchable and the beat is infectious. So much so, Just Blaze’s frequent collaborator couldn’t keep his grubby fucking paws off of it.

To promote his utterly atrocious fake Gucci shoe, Jay Z dropped The S. Carter Collection, proving that every cloud has a silver lining. Although the shoe was trash, The S. Cart Collection features some of the best Jay Z freestyles to date, no more so than the “Pump it Up” freestyle. Right from the beginning Jay Z makes it clear that this beat is too damn good for some schmuck from New Joizy.  “Gimme that beat fool it’s a full time jack move”- a not so subliminal shot opens up the track before Jay Z goes on a classic shit-talking tirade.  Later Jay Z would become President of Def Jam, and Joey would blame Jay Z for being shelved on the label. Of course, it could’ve also been that his record flopped before Jay became president due to his inability to capitalize on “Pump it Up” with a second single. But who cares about facts! This is rap people!

The Jay Z-Budden beef would come to a head in 2007 with the Budden’s track “Talk To Em”, in which Budden clowns Jay for being in love and rapping at 38 (only in rap would a person be made fun of for doing regular things human beings do). Later on Blueprint 3 Jay rapped “tell those ordinary Joes button up.” It’s likely that any time Jay talks about a wack rapper thinking he’s on his level, it’s probably about Joey (see “Versus” from MCHG).  On the other hand, Jay could be talking about Drake.

The relationship between Drake and Jay Z is a weird one. When Drake first came on the scene Jay took the young man under his wing in a way only Jay Z could do: by outdoing him on him on his own record (see “Light Up”).  Jay’s been doing this kind of “mentoring” to legendary Du-Rag connoisseur, Memphis Bleek, for years. Truth is Jay doesn’t want to pass the baton no matter how old he gets. He still wants to be the king, and it’s obvious that Drake is the most poised to take up that spot. Drake’s got the lyrical bite and pop appeal that Jay once had in the late 90s and early 2000’s.

In 2013 the two collaborated again on “Pound Cake” and Drake got the upper hand. Later, Drake criticized Jay for talking about the same superficial shit over and over again. Jay struck back on “We Made It Remix” rapping, “sorry Miss Drizzy for the art talk, silly me talking bout shit that I really bought”. And yet the two are still friends? Enemies? When I listen to Views and hear lyrics like, “don’t get along man we tried it” and “I hate a rapper especially” I wonder if these lines are for Jay Z. And yet still, on the same album, Jay was slated to be featured on “Pop Style”. As you may have heard, Jay pretty much shitted on the feature and only gave Drake two bars. Drake then removed Jay and said the two lines his damn self. You have to wonder if these two will ever get into a full-blown beef. It’s obvious that Budden is wondering the same thing.

Meta-critic’s got Drake’s latest effort Views at 68%. Wikipedia has its reception categorized as “generally mixed”. So when Budden said Drake sounded, “really fucking uninspired”, it wasn’t exactly out of leftfield. It’s pretty much the consensus amongst fans and critics alike. But perhaps there is something to say about rappers critiquing other rappers. Maybe rappers should understand the work and effort it takes to make an album and give each other a pass? Who other than a rapper would understand that sometimes life gets in the way and its tough to put your best foot forward on a record? But then again, aren’t rappers fans first? Shouldn’t they have the right to criticize the artists they love for not bringing it? I don’t know, but what I do know is that Drake thinks Joe Budden should shut the fuck up about his music…maybe? This whole beef could be in Budden’s head, but you’ve got to blame the media for that. “4pm in Calabasas” is definitely about Diddy (whether it’s an homage or diss is anyone’s guess) but for some reason every hip-hop blog thinks there’s a Budden diss in there, even though Drake has been bitching about people envying him since So Far Gone. The people envying Drake is about as real as the body count on a gangsta rapper’s verse. But whatever, the Drake diss—whether real or not—gave us one of the most clever battle raps in years.

Budden doesn’t like Jay-Z. Jay-Z doesn’t like Budden. Drake might’ve had an issue with Budden, and Budden definitely has an issue with Drake. Budden, realizing that he can use his beef with Jay Z to not only attack Jay but also Drake, crafts an excellent third verse on “Making a Murderer Part 1”. On the third verse Joe Budden raps “I don’t work for you, but I’m still doing work for you,” referencing both, his short tenure under President Jay Z at Def Jam and Jay Z’s quasi beef with Drake. He talks over Drake like a child, calling Hov his “OG”, as if Hov is responsible for keeping Drake in his place. Drake is the badass kid of the neighborhood he hates. Budden has walked him over to his dad and basically told him if he doesn’t whip his ass he’ll do it for him.  We’ve never heard a diss like this, because we’ve never had a relationship of three rappers this complex. Or rather Budden is the first artist to recognize the triangle of beef (Jay Z could’ve easily made Prodigy the Drake in his beef with Nas on “Takeover”).

From the song its obvious that Joey is a fan of both of the artists he has beef with. He makes it clear that his original criticism of Drake was because he likes what Drake does and was disappointed in his latest effort.  He references,  “All the Way Up” with “if ain’t no real niggas allowed why the fuck would I wanna go”. “All the Way Up” never references Budden, so there’s no reason for him to hear it. The same goes for “Kingdom Come” and yet Budden references that song on “Talk to ‘Em”.  So, either Budden is a fan of Jay or he’s so paranoid he’s listening to every Jay song waiting for him to say his name.

At the end of the day the Budden diss will have zero effect on the Drake or Jay Z stock. He’s not a big enough artist for either of their fan base to give a fuck about that dude from the VH1 L&HH show. And Budden knows this. He raps, “both too big to respond to what I have to say.” But he also recognizes that he’s a hard emcee to ignore. He adds, “but the universe makes it so they come right back to me.” As a fan I wouldn’t want it any other way. Jay Z and Drake are passed the point where a battle rap could end their career (Jay survived “Ether”!). I’m just enjoying the craftsmanship of this verse and looking forward to a response. Hopefully y’all are doing the same.

 

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