This review is coming from a die-hard Joe Budden fan. Anyone that knows me, knows he’s been my favorite rapper since Calm Down, 10 Min and Walk With Me on his debut album in ’03. Whatever It Takes still one of the Top 10 Budden tracks… Not Up For Debate. With the release of Mood Muzik 2: Can It Get Any Worse? in ’05, no one could tell me nothin! His deep confessionals and consistency to talk about real-life issues instead of “money, cars, and clothes” set him apart from other dope lyricists. Being able to make listeners feel what you’re going through is far more important to me than catchy punchlines. And record sales never meant shit to me. “Music is just what feeling sounds like”.
With that said, No Love Lost is upon us. With his growing popularity from Love & Hip-Hop and recent growth of his fan base from the success of Slaughterhouse, now is the perfect opportunity for Joey to be heard. And he does so in an approach that will definitely impress new fans, or those who have never heard his music before. The album starts off fun. To the surprise of us hardcore Budden fans, he has features from some of today’s biggest names in hip-hop. Now I’m not one to listen to anything unless it’s depressing, but I’ll admit the upbeat songs on #NLL are catchy. The album is well-rounded enough to be able to play a few tracks on the way to the club (or strip club), a few for the ladies, and roughly half the album when you’re alone lookin at your overdraft fees pile up while drinking & driving with your Gas light on. Of 17 total tracks, 7 still have the dark Mood Muzik feel. Add in a skit, a remix Bonus Track, and that leaves about half the album for Joe to step outside his comfort zone and have fun on a few records.
The album starts with a smooth Intro. Then Top of the World offers a hook from Kirko Bangz while Joe brags about his lifestyle, strippers and hoes. Then he gets a verse from Tunechi while Tank sings the hook for She Don’t Put It Down, a club banger that’s still growing on me. Next is NBA (Never Broke Again), 1 of 2 songs on the album I can’t tolerate. By this point in the album, I was ready to turn it off. Next is You And I, the first love record on the album, with Emanny on the hook. More about Kaylin. Again, cool for the new fans that ain’t hear this side of him yet. I ain’t mad at it. Some relatable shit on it. Tell Him Somethin is a Steal-Your-Girl record with none other than Emanny, who absolutely makes the song. Switch Positions has Maybach-O slithering his horrible vocals throughout as Joe talks about sex. And that’s the next unbearable record on the album for me. Last Day has an odd lineup. With Juicy J and Lloyd Banks, I didn’t know what to expect. But it’s another mindless song for the #NewNiggas to enjoy.
The mood switches midway thru the album. Joe reminds us why he’s the Mood God with tracks like Castles, All in my Head, Skeletons, Ghetto Burbs, Runaway, My Time and No Love Lost Outro. Which are all my favorite tracks on the album (Don’t judge us emo niggas). Runaway discusses his drug problem. Ghetto Burbs talks about the struggle in his hood over dope guitar riffs, but I would’ve preferred a singer other than Emanny (sorry fam). Skeletons offered one of my favorite verses from Joe on the album, while Joell Ortiz and Crook dropped dope verses as well. All in my Head was released on #ALQ but still one of the best on here. The verses on My Time are everything true fans expect from Joe.
Typical Budden fans will be quick to say he sold out on this one. And I can’t blame them. He’s got features from Wayne, French Montana, Wiz Khalifa, Kirko Bangz, and Juicy J. None of who are known for their lyrical talent, but all have a huge buzz in the industry today. Joe raps about money and hoes on a few tracks as well. Which his die-hard fans know he’s always mocked mainstream artists for. But when you look at the bigger picture, Joe has stayed true to his fans for over 10 years in the game without reaching the success he deserves. With his growing fan base (whether from his Twitter antics, controversial lyrics, or Love & Hip-Hop) maybe it’s about time to reach a broader audience. Most of his new fans don’t even know he’s been rapping that long. So why not take this opportunity to reach a younger crowd?
Don’t go into the first listen expecting classic Mood Muzik material. This is Joe Budden growing. Compare it today’s music. A market where Joe is “tryna maintain being unique but relatable”. Put up against some of the best album releases of last year, this album is still above average lyrically. I gotta give No Love Lost a 3.8 out of 5
Make sure you go support the real!