Following the release of Slaughterhouse’s debutant Shady Records album, “Welcome To Our House”, and touring with the Hip-Hop Supergroup; Joe Budden has returned to his solo career, releasing the mixtape “A Loose Quarter.” The mixtape comes before ‘Jump Off’ releases the album “No Love Lost” in Spring 2013 which has already been commercially successful due to the single “She Don’t Put It Down Like You” featuring Lil Wayne reaching the Urban Top 40 Chart. “A Loose Quarter” was released a couple of days prior to the planned Black Friday release date for unknown reasons, however there were no complaints from Budden fans as the tape might just be Joey’s best yet. Including the Mood Music series.
The mixtape begins with “Intro” which oddly does not feature any raping vocals from Joe, even though I feel like it is the type of beat he’d really suit rapping over however it really does set the mood for the remainder of the tape. The tape then gets straight into it with ‘Words Of A Chameleon” which features excellent production by AraabMusik. It is not Joe at his best in my opinion despite what I expected due to the title. Given that Joe knows how it feels to be like a Chameleon in the music industry, he never really unlocked this songs potential. As much as I appreciated the last bar (“They tried making us the guinea pigs/We just killed it and kept it as a logo”), it could just have easily been on any song and didn’t tie in to the topic.
With “What Ya’ll Want” the tape does a 360 and completely lifted my spirits and filled me, once again, with optimism for “A Loose Quarter.” Joe unleashes quotable after quotable, questioning the authenticity of the industries “Top Tier MC’s” mixed with a little unconventional(For Joe) self hype and touches on various other topics from his relationships to his beef with WuTang. Each time I hear the hook, I fight back the urge to think of Joell Ortiz as the pronunciation of “What Ya’ll Want” could easily be misheard as Ortiz’s iconic ad-lib, Yaowa. Other than the fact the song should have featured Ortiz, “What Ya’ll Want” is one of the stand out’s on the tape.
Budden then links up with Black Hippy member Ab-Soul(Left) on “Cut From A Different Cloth.” Worryingly the track is again based around Self Hype rather than the autobiographical, story telling Budden fans have grown used to. However complaints are minimal as both artists come with a good chemistry, a catchy hook and top level lyrical ability only tainted by a few flow issues from Budden. I haven’t really heard much from Ab-Soul or Black Hippy but after this song I definitely need to give them a listen and I sincerely hope they have a feature for “No Love Lost” because minus the pointless introduction this track itself is album material.
The tape then moves into another feature, this time with Tsu Surf on “Through My Eyes.” The track is summed up by the last bar of Joe’s verse “You’re a slave to these streets/I’m a slave to these fans.” I can’t say I loved the addition of Tsu Surf but I definitely liked the concept. My main problem with Tsu was the line “I got a whole beat to go”, when you’re given the opportunity to develop your fan base with a feature on another artist’s mixtape, why would you use a filler lyric like that? His whole verse just seemed unconnected to me and Joe overshadowed him and it is one of Budden’s worst verses on the tape.
Following on is a triplet of songs featuring Emanny a regular feature on Joe Budden projects beginning with the interlude/skit of “The Helmet” also featuring Mal. I am lead to believe various of people I follow on twitter find it hilarious but I detest skits personally so I resented it for taking in place of a song. We then move into “So Good” AraabMusik’s third production on the tape. It is not the best collaboration between Budden and Emanny but there is a pretty high bar set. The same can be said for the following, similarly titled, “So Hard.”
Another interlude then pops up featuring Trev Rich named “Dreams” which is infact one of the highlights of the album, particularly when juxtaposed with the three previous tracks. I can’t decide why Budden didn’t rap it himself as I have suspicions he wrote the verses as they definitely relate to him particularly the having “threesomes with success and my favourite girl” line.
The fans of Joe Budden are no doubt divided on opinion of the track “Pain Wont Stop” as Jump Off criticises his fans for hoping he stays depressed. It is well known throughout the industry that Joe Budden has faced multiple episodes of depression and now he is finally happy with Kaylin many of his fans are worried he’ll stop rapping the relatable lyrics they love him for. Joe rightly questions “How could you ever love someone and wish them the worst?” referring to fans hoping for a break up. It is a very real song and risky for Joe to take a shot at his fans to the point of mentioning Steve, an old friend who turned into “Stan mode” over Budden who he banned from the ‘Budden Compound.’
After one amazing song, we are treat to the best song on the tape; “All In My Head”, featuring Slaughterhouse bandmate Royce Da 5’9. It features amazing lyrics from the two rappers and unrivalled flow on the sampled beat from Kendrick Lamar’s “The Heart Pt.3.” The stand out lyric of the tape comes on this track in Joe’s second verse “If I’m out my mind, how can I be in-sanity?” but in truth each bar from this song could be quoted as examples of top level lyricism.
Unbelievably the next song is also an absolute instant classic. The fourth feature from Emanny “More Of Me” is the sequel from hit “All Of Me” and this time Budden focuses more on his relationship with Kaylin and answers the critics he has over the instagram photos he posts almost daily and even reveals Kaylins personal life. A song that will go down as one of Buddens realest songs along with Downfall, Follow My Lead and Inseperable with lyrics such as “If niggas knew a third of all the weight that he shouldered/They’d know its an insult to think I’m only Bi-Polar” and “Let the world talk about every photo we post up/and we’ll sleep well every night, Cause they don’t us.”
The next song is a slight drop in standard, yet again featuring Emanny but still a good song with a sample from Slaughterhouse song “Where Sinners Dwell.” “Now Or Never” is a decent end to the tape and closes on the line “If by chance I’m past my prime I’m tryna lap it.”
I am of the personal opinion that this mixtape rivals with Mood Musik 4.5 are Buddens best and numerous songs could easily have made the album. The tape has definitely set a standard for “No Love Lost” even if their were a few average tracks. “Momma Said”, “More Of Me”, “Pain Won’t Stop” and “All In My Head” are sure to be cemented in Joe’s fans’ heads for a long time where as “Off To The Races” has been repeated more times on my phone and laptop than I’d care to guess. Definitely a must listen for ‘Hip-Hop Heads.’
Stand Out Song(s) – Off To The Races / All In My Head
Mixtape/Album Rating – 4/5