Civil Interview: Joe Budden Talks ‘Rage & The Machine’ Album and More
by Shawn Grant
You had a hot summer, how did that help you gear up for this fall run?
Joe Budden: I’m not sure that it did. I’m not sure that much of my hot summer was planned. The album was done prior to me engaging in my lyrical warfare. When you are a veteran like this you get used to the album run, the promo and the beef records. I was well prepared for that exchange.
That exchange, how tired are you of hearing about it?
Joe Budden: It’s cooled down now. I’m grateful for that. It gets repetitive when you continue to talk about the same exact thing but understandably so. That was a high profile person I was talking to. I’m glad we were able to phase out of that and focus where it belongs, on this music. Again, this was done before that. I have been itching for the fans to hear this for a long time.
Hopping into that project, Rage & the Machine, I listened to your podcast and you were going to do a name change and then your manager said no, what sparked the name change?
Joe Budden: I wanted to go in a new direction. I wanted to try some new things and this was before I ever stepped into the studio, before we started recording music and I had no idea what sound the music would be going in. I felt like it was deserving of its own identity as a whole rather than just be attached with my name and what some of the people think when they hear my name. When you hear Joe Budden you think of content, introspection, certain moods. With this album, especially with araab providing all of the sounds, I didn’t want anyone to get preconceived notions about it.
What helped in the transition from a name change to an album title?
Joe Budden: Even when I planned on doing the name change that was going to be the album title as well. It would be Rage & the Machine Part 1, then Part 2. Just like a new series.
In the album Joe fans will get what they want, you get bars. In today’s climate do you feel you have a responsibility to provide that?
Joe Budden: I have to be. The people who pride themselves on penmanship, we all are responsible for that because we have to remain ourselves. The rappers will always be able to rap and there will always be an audience for rap music. 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we will always want to hear the guy who raps well. As far as what’s trendy and dope at the moment, I’m not sure how long that will be around. But there will always be an audience for lyrics.
When you pop in the album and hear a track like “Uncle Joe”, you spitting, but the narrative is your age. Is that a struggle for artists?
Joe Budden: It’s a struggle if you struggle with it. I have done nothing but embrace it. I embrace the wisdom and experience that comes with it and being around for some of the historical moments that some of the younger people missed. Now if you are aging and you are unsure of yourself, unsure of your talent and your life isn’t necessarily where you like it to be, I can see how aging would become a problem [laughs]. I’ve been fortunate enough not to go through that. Throughout the album you can hear that age being worn like a badge of honor. There is a lot of references to all the people who influence me that a lot of people, younger people, may not have heard of. There is a 3rd Bass reference on the album so I clearly went back and was talking to the people who have experience in the industry as well.
On that track you got a bar, “I ain’t with the kiddie shit, I turn up but I like the Biggie shit.” I know a lot of people draw of inspiration when recording. Do you feel that it’s hard to create when there is a lot of basic bars floating around?
Joe Budden: No, not necessarily. I believe there is a time and place for everything. Sometime when I’m in a lounge a DJ will throw on one of my mixtape cuts as a sign of respect when I’m in the building. In my head I’m like I don’t want to hear that shit. I want to hear Future, I want to hear something else. So what people may call lower quality music is music of a higher quality dependent on where you are. To each its own. I don’t think it’s difficult to maintain that edge or that level of penmanship because a large part of the climate focuses elsewhere.
You spoke on araabMUZIK being behind the production. How you decide to link with him?
Joe Budden: araab was on my last project, countless mixtapes of mine, every Slaughterhouse project, so he’s someone I already had an amazing rapport with and a good chemistry as far as sound went and working with someone. We basically lived together for however many months and that creative energy was just so amazing to feel between the two of us. I documented most of it because I’m such a big fan of his. So the fact that we agreed and could execute and had an amazing time doing so is priceless.