Joe Budden – No Love Lost | Album Review

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Throughout his career Joe Budden has been considered many things – an outcast, a drunk, very much up himself, and more recently a sucker for love. While he may admit to being, or having been, one or some of these things, something has been missed. How about survivor? Judging from his recent verse on “Want You Back” with Fabolous and Cassie, as well as a few older joints, and his Slaughterhouse entries of course, Joey has physically, mentally, and emotionally been through the wars.

Bringing to the table his first official solo project since the conception of hip-hop supergroup Slaughterhouse, of which he is a part alongside Crooked I, Royce Da 5’9″, and Joell Ortiz, Budden might have finally silenced his critics.

While the highs of his musical fame were at their peak back in 2003 when he was signed to Def Jam putting out singles like “Pump It Up” and “Fire,” it’s now ten years later and, while he’s putting out some of his best work to date, he’s recognised more now as an individual than a musical entity. While this is due to a combination of things – reality shows, highly publicised relationships, and disputes with his peers – Joey appears to have put pen to paper, brought all the negative together, exercised his demons, and the final product is a brave, deep and meaningful collection of records that make up the eOne distributed No Love Lost.

Apparently the final piece of a four album concept – following on from Halfway House, Padded Room and Escape Route – the 17-track autobiographical statement of arrival is by far Budden’s most honest and heartfelt project. While he has put everything on display over the years on cuts like “10 Minutes,” “Dear Angie” and “Truth or Truth Pt.1,” as an entire collection of songs Joe Budden might have painted his masterpiece with his new release.

While the album doesn’t seem to have any particular structure in terms of track arrangement there is however a run of four songs, from five to eight, that gel together as if they were all created during the same time period whilst all dealing with the same mental challenges and everyday struggles fans have come to expect from Joey. Not only that… they’re as close to perfection as Joe Budden has ever been.

The first of the four is “You & I,” which features regular collaborator Emanny and is easily the album’s finest moment. Listing his previous romantic conquests and where he went wrong, as well as outlining how he aspires to be with his current partner, the simplistic mid-tempo number provides a soothing injection of soulful serenity in to the hearts and minds of even the hardest street dude. With men all over the globe being able to relate to what Joey says on the track, he’s managed to put in to words what most men would like to say but don’t.

Keeping things moving, “Castles,” as well as the thought provoking “Skeletons” which features both Crooked I and Joell Ortiz, keep fans of lyricism and storytelling happy, but it’s the record squeezed in between them that impresses the most. With lyrical assistance from Royce Da 5’9″ and harmonic assistance from Kobe, “All In My Head” hears the Jersey emcee speak from the private part of the mind. The little voice we all have in the back of our head – the one that asks questions and says things that we tend to keep to ourselves – is put on blast this time around. With Royce spitting straight realism with lines like, “You ever look at a bitch you was fucking behind your bitch back like what the fuck was I fucking you for?”, and Joey going in – “Headed upfield but couldn’t dodge the last tackler/ How could a forward thinker move so ass backwards?” – there’s no doubting the superiority of each emcee’s songwriting skills on this go round.

With “She Don’t Put It Down,” the album’s lead single gets the remix treatment as well as featuring the original; and thanks to Tank’s recognisable vocal tone it works well as a popular crossover record, with the remix seeing Budden team up with Lil’ Wayne, Fabolous and Twista.

Then you’ve got the cheat anthem of the year “Tell Him Something,” which hears Joey list a few excuses his current play thing can give to her man about where she is, why she is the way she is, and what happens when she’s not with him. Seductively alluring, if it wasn’t for the lyrical content the track could easily be mistaken for a sentimental slow jam due to its delicately sedate production.

With the odd uninspiring record here and there, which seem like they were mostly laid down for the thugs to get their hustle on, records such as “NBA” and “Last Day” are average at best but really do nothing to tarnish the top notch reputation No Love Lost deserves.

The saying goes, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” With that said, those that feel the New Jersey emcee is just regurgitating the same pulling of the heartstrings he always does… But why not? With so many people complaining that hip-hop has lost its way, and claim there’s no lyricism in the game anymore, why moan about someone giving listeners things to think about, relate to, and feel for? No Love Lost offers all of this and more.

Joe Budden – No Love Lost
Label: Entertainment One Music
Released: February 5, 2013
Buy: iTunes / Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk

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