Joe Budden

From Rapper to Media Mogul: The life & Career of Joe Budden

Early Years

Joe Budden was born to Joseph Budden and Fay Sutherland on August 31st, 1980 in Spanish Harlem in New York City. He moved to New Jersey with his mother and older brother at the age of thirteen. Budden’s father was not present in his life, which would later be the subject of much of his music. Because of his tendency to get into trouble, Budden was sent to a boarding school in North Carolina where he would begin rapping. 

After returning to Jersey, he began using drugs, developing an addiction to angel dust. Budden voluntarily went into rehab on July 3, 1997, in exchange for him being allowed to attend his senior prom. Budden did not earn his diploma, and fathered a child with an older woman by the age of 20. With his son on the way, Budden began taking music more seriously. In 2001, he teamed up with producer Dub-B, also known as White Boy, and began releasing his first mixtapes and demos, one of which ended up in the hands of Hoty 97 radio host and Desert Storm Records label head DJ Clue.

Rise to Fame

Budden quickly became a mixtape fixture, and secured a major deal with Def Jam Records in 2002.  He first gained attention through the promotional single “Focus”, which spent seventeen weeks on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart, peaking at #43

On May 8, 2003, Budden released “Pump it Up” as the lead single for his upcoming album. The song, produced by Just Blaze, was a commercial success.

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Music Career

During winter and spring of 2005, through Joe Budden mixtapes and hip-hop rumor mills, it was said that he departed from Def Jam to Roc-A-Fella Records with CEO Damon Dash. In reality, Budden was legally obligated to stay with Def Jam. In the beginning of Budden’s career, it took him a long time to get public exposure, working more than three years from the first time his demo tapes were heard to the first time he was on the radio. 

Though he is thought of as one of rap’s most skilled lyricists, Budden’s success outside of the mixtape circuit has been marginal purposely. His music is usually more sensitive and thought provoking than that of gangsta rappers, but subsequently, it is also more explicit and unrelenting than most “conscious” or “backpack” rappers.

In late December of 2005, Joe released a mixtape after almost 5 months of being absent from the game. Mood Muzik 2 is considered by most to be a lyrical masterpiece and with so deep tracks such as “Dumb Out” and the emotional “3 Sides to a Story” (in which Joe harrowingly describes a disturbing situation), many wondered had these songs originally been scheduled to appear on The Growth.

In 2007, he was released by Def Jam. In December 2007, he released Mood Muzik 3, which many are calling the best mixtape of the year, with some even saying it’s the album of the year since it contains all original material. Some have questioned this since the beat for ‘Ventilation’ is an edit of ‘It’s A Shame (Da Butcher’s Mix)’ by Kool G Rap.

In October 2008, Joe Budden released another highly-rated mixtape, Halfway House. Budden officially retired from rap in August of 2020.

Media Career

On April 17, 2017, Budden began co-hosting Everyday Struggle, a daily morning show for Complex, with Dj Akademiks and Nadeska Alexis.

On May 14, 2018, Budden announced a partnership with Sean Combs and his media company Revolt, creating and producing the talk show State of the Culture, which premiered on September 10, 2018.  During the summer of 2018 The Joe Budden Podcast began touring, with live performances through the United States. During this time, he officially announced that he was retiring from rapping. In August 2018, Budden signed a deal to bring his podcast to Spotify and expand the show to a bi-weekly schedule, with new episodes every Wednesday and Saturday. On August 27, 2020, Budden announced he was leaving Spotify at the end of his contract over a financial disagreement with the streaming service.

On February 3, 2021, Budden announced that he is bringing exclusive content from his podcast to crowdfunding service Patreon. He also announced that he would be joining Patreon’s board as Creator Equity Advisor with the goal to address “everything that’s wrong with the monetization system for creators.”

Awards and Recognition

  • Grammy Awards
    • 2004, Best Male Rap Solo Performance: “Pump It Up” (nominated)
  • Other awards
    • 2003 Vibe Next Award (winner)
    • United Kingdom, MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Award for “Clubbin” with Marques Houston (nominated)
    • United Kingdom, MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Award for Best Rap Performance (nominated)
    • 2004 Black Reel Award for Best Song from a Movie for “Pump It Up” in 2 Fast 2 Furious (nominated)


Joe Budden
Mood Muzik 3L The Album
Halfway House
Padded Room
Escape Route
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Works Cited

  1.  Dize, Ellin M. “Dize: Regular People Are Awakening at a Rapid Rate”Carroll County TimesBaltimore Sun MediaArchived from the original on October 21, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Jason Birchmeier. “Joe Budden – Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography – AllMusic”AllMusic. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  3. Jump up to:a b “Joe Budden | Discography” Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  4. ^ Garrett, Ural (October 4, 2016). “Joe Budden Talks Balancing Rap Life & Podcast Life & Upcoming ‘Rage & Machine’ Project With Araabmuzik _ HipHopDX”HipHopDX.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d Iman Stevenson. “How Joe Budden Became the Howard Stern of Hip-Hop”The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. “Joe Budden Biography & Awards”AllMusic. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  7. ^ McCall, Tris“Joe Budden to headline rare Stone Pony hip-hop show”The Star-Ledger, May 10, 2010. Accessed September 2, 2019. “‘Even if I didn’t try to make the music personal, emotional, if I started out trying to write something that wasn’t like that, the pen would go in a totally different direction,’ says Budden, who attended Lincoln High School in Jersey City.”
  8. ^ “Joe Budden – Skeletons Lyrics | Genius Lyrics” Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  9. Jump up to:a b Bottomley, C. (May 5, 2003). “Joe Budden: Pump up the Volume”VH1. Viacom International Inc. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
  10. ^ “Joe Budden, ‘Joe Budden’ (Def Jam)” August 5, 2003. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  11. Jump up to:a b c Thomas Golianopoulos (December 19, 2014). “Interview: Joe Budden’s Private and Public Life” Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  12. ^ fname1 (June 5, 2003). “Joe Budden: Def Jam’s Hope” Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  13. Jump up to:a b c “Joe Budden – Chart history | Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs” Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  14. Jump up to:a b “Joe Budden – Chart history | R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay” Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  15. ^ “Joe Budden – Chart history | The Hot 100” Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  16. ^ “Joe Budden – Chart history | Rap Songs” Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  17. ^ “Joe Budden – Chart history | Radio Songs” Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  18. ^ Bush, John. “Original Soundtrack 2 Fast 2 Furious”Allmusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  19. ^ “Def Jam Vendetta Original Soundtrack” Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  20. ^ “Ailing Vandross Dances Atop Album Chart” Retrieved December 27, 2013.
  21. ^ “Fire Yes Yes Ya’ll – Joe Budden | Credits” Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  22. ^ “Marques Houston – Chart history – Billboard” Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  23. ^ “New CD’s”The New York Times. January 16, 2006.
  24. ^ “The 50 Best Rapper Mixtapes” Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  25. ^ “Joe Budden leaves Def Jam”. October 10, 2007. Retrieved February 27, 2011.

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