The generation gap in rap has been a source of tension ever since Melle Mel took to hanging out at the Latin Quarter in 1987, heckling up-and-comers such as Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions as they attempted to perform. KRS-One eventually accepted Mel’s challenge to battle live on stage before proceeding to win over the crowd using a rhyme that would later reappear on ‘I’m Still #1’. Things eventually came full circle when Nelly and KRS came to (verbal) blows in 2002 because the Blasmasta wasn’t happy that the St. Lunatic had made a song with a similar title to the aforementioned numero uno classic. The lesson for everyone is that we all become the angry old guy yelling at the kids to get off of the lawn one day.
Joe Budden seems to embrace being the Rap Game Walt Kowalski, and that’s clearly his role in ‘Everyday Struggle’ as he yells at that DJ Akademiks guy for three quarters of an hour. The latest episode features Joe getting grouchy at Lil Yachty about everything imaginable. Budden questions the young fella about the cover for his Teenage Emotions album, which Mr. Mood Muzik reads as being the product of his record label’s focus-group driven marketing department; accuses him of having received intensive ‘media training’ because of Yacht’s refusal to be be drawn on dissing his contemporaries; and, best of all, can’t believe that any human being is capable of being “happy all day”.
It’s understandable that Joe is skeptical, having personally experienced the shitty end of the music industry back when Def Jam still had enough juice to get one of his songs featured in a scene of Mean Girls, which some have argued was the highlight of his career. Unfortunately, Budden isn’t quite old enough to convincingly play the Old Bitter Guy role he’s been assigned, and it’s also difficult to believe that he’s that out of touch with things that he can’t get his head around the concept that shit done changed. Shock horror: A huge Instagram following will get you further in the music biz than DJ Clue mixtape freestyles in 2017!
The most uncomfortable moment in the video is when Joe declares, “I was you last decade. I was dissing Wu Tang. Google me!” To begin with, comparing the success of ‘Pump It Up’ to ‘Broccoli’ is tough to measure, outside of the fact that they were both nominated for Grammy awards. As for dissing the Wu, that resulted in a video featuring Budden getting socked in the eye backstage by one of Raekwon’s weed carriers from Ice Water, so I’m not sure if that’s something to be bragging about. Speaking of which, Joe seems to have a habit for being involved in these When Weed Holders Attack scenario, as I can still fondly recall the time Consequence (aka The Greatest Weed Carrier of All-Time) sucker punched him in the back of the melon after a Love & Hip-Hop taping. Finally, I can guarantee that Lil’ Yachty has no intention of Googling ‘Was Joe Budden the hottest rapper out in the 00s’ ever in his entire life.
Of the other issues raised, perhaps the most telling response is when asked to comment about who he rates amongst his peers, Yacht Rock responds, “I don’t believe I’m the best, I believe I’m doing the best business”. This is another example of the Jay Z Effect, where kids took note of the fact that he’s married to Beyoncé and could buy and sell Nas’ entire existence, several times over, even though Jay will never top Illmatic. Guess which example they follow? Lil Yachty values his business model, his image, and his brand above all else—plus having a little bit of fun and creating some shit he considers cool along the way.
Joe Budden has Eminem’s direct phone number, a large collection of leather vests, and is pretty good at playing mind games with women who experience self esteem issues on VH1, while Yachty raps over the music from Super Mario 64, did a Target ad with Carly Rae Jepsen where they remade an ’88 rap classic and has modelled Yeezy designed clothes at Madison Square Garden, which is the modern equivalent of getting signed to Bad Boy Records when Biggie was still around. Apparently, the Yacht-meister doesn’t really care about Big Poppa all that much but considering that Christopher Wallace had been dead for five months by the time Yacht was born, it’s hardly surprising. He’s more of a BASED GOD kinda guy.
Having been involved in the witch hunt against ‘douchebag hipster rappers’ in 2008, which resulted in a number of largely defensive articles in publications such as XXL Mag and The Chicago Reader, I can relate to Joe Budden’s position. The difference being that he seems to take it a little more seriously than I did and doesn’t wish to appear ‘old guy mad’, which is actually the most amusing part of the experience. Tellingly, the rebuttal is exactly the same: “Let the kids have their fun!” If this was a valid argument, reckless driving, recreational drug use, and passing out in the middle of the road from excessive booze intake would all be considered the height of good behaviour, because, y’know, ‘fun’.
Joe is stuck on trying to compare different eras on a like-for-like basis, where things like arguing who’s in your Top Five Dead or Alive mattered. To be fair, this dude describes his music as Bubblegum Trap, so it’s not as if he’s declaring himself the Lord of All Rap Music. Most importantly, Mr. Budden discredits his entire stance when he calls Yachty, “You one of the hottest n****s on earth” without so much as a ‘pause’ to cover himself. I thought you were Jersey City born and bred, Joe!