Joe Budden has Worn Many Hats in His Career
Career trajectories are in an unconventional state. An individual now has the ability to be a marketer one day and a mogul the next. Joe Budden has been able to reap the rewards of this transition through an atypical route.
The force began his journey as a battle-rapper, winning over the underground scene match after match. After cementing his name below the surface, Budden embarked on a transition into the mainstream with the help of Def Jam. However, the relationship grew turbulent in the run-up to his sophomore album release and subsequently, Joe parted ways with the imprint.
Reforming and establishing Slaughterhouse with the likes of Crooked I and Joell Ortiz, Budden was still persistent with rap. However, false starts and turbulence plagued his career and led fans and critics to believe that Budden — the main-stage rapper — was never to be. Despite this, 2017 saw a resurgence in the entertainer, as Complex noticed the weight held in his opinions online. Utilizing this, they signed Joe Budden (as well as Akademiks and Nadeska Alexis) to ‘Everyday Struggle’, a Hip-hop debate show.
Now, following a high profile split at the end of 2017, the hip-hop figure stands tall. His self-started Podcast, ‘The Pull Up’ and ‘State of the Culture’ (similar to ‘Everyday Struggle’) all gain huge receptions in their own right. The pendulum is now in Joe Budden’s favor, but in a fickle generation with short attention spans, the first question that arises is; are all of his platforms bespoke enough?
Debating The Platforms
The initial formulas for all three platforms appeared distinct enough to gain individual consumer bases. But with the introduction of ‘State of the Culture’ overlap of content can be argued to be in question. An explicit example of this is the highly publicized Eminem “beef”. The renowned rapper had words for the likes of Machine Gun Kelly and Budden himself. Across the week that followed, the host discussed the mentions in depth on both State of the Culture and his podcast. As a consumer, there were clear points of similarity and parts of State of the Culture (which airs later on in the week), felt boring, dragged out and useless because of this.
However, context is key. The latter format had only just debuted on the Revolt network, and in the weeks that have followed, it’s clear that there is a marked difference in approach compared to the Podcast. One platform is a relaxed, backyard-esque, jokes and laughs platform, the other; a more nuanced, industry expert based show with facts, figures, and receipts. Both have their own audiences and enough variation to remain engaged.
— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) October 17, 2018
What’s even more interesting, is that the Podcast although informal, has, over the course of the last two years, cemented itself as a fixture within Hip-hop culture. Budden is regularly dissected on platforms such as Forbes, TMZ and even direct rival Complex. In an era where Podcasts as a whole are leading a new moment (as Youtube did over a decade ago), The Joe Budden Podcast is leading the pack in the realm of cultural impact. Arguably, if moments reminiscent of Pusha T and Chance The Rapper continue to happen, the Budden brand could position itself in the leagues of The Breakfast Club and Hot 97, or in fact, top them. Again, this distinction makes the Podcast (whether Joe accounted for this or not) a contemporary crux of new-age Hip-hop, and thus different from mere commentary with lesser value (at this point).
Ultimately, all three platforms emphasize that Joe Budden has a position of power within the “culture”. Everything he touches gains audience views and participation in hours, his opinions only seem to grow in cultural currency and he’s managed to still maintain a crystal clear persona in the process. However, with this new-found power comes skepticism, critiques and the question of maintenance. How can the juggernaut Joe Budden sustain his new-found and unexpected career?
Maintaining a Consistent Personality
For the entertainer to survive and solidify his status, it’s imperative that he remains himself. From the infamous ‘Views’ review in 2016 to his controversial one-liners on ‘State Of The Culture’, Joe hasn’t faltered or tried to dilute his image. This mar-mite glazed personality is what keeps him in the line of conversation, whether positive or negative. His authenticity and transparency has allowed people over the years to slowly accept that it’s not coming from a place of bitterness over a failed rap career but instead has origins in a genuine passion and appreciation of the sport and those that engage in it.
The last and most important factor is finding a balance. Contextually – this means not becoming hyper-visible to the point of annoyance. The avenues in the personalities arsenal are enough, he’s promoted at least three times a week, both visually and audibility, across two platforms (The Pull Up is more sporadic). Becoming anymore exposed than that allows for fatigue in his various consumer-bases.
The Budden brand is in full flight at this time. If the pilot continues his course, he’ll become a concrete figure in Hip-hop history; even if it’s not in the way that was initially envisioned.
Photo Credit: Chris Ayala