The Joe Budden Podcast is one of the best pieces of content out right now. Retired MC Joe Budden along with his co-hosts Rory, Mal and Parks (And screen man, Rem and Savon) have created a cultural commentary phenomenon. As a 21 year old black man this show is the first of my lifetime that is acutely culturally relevant. With Television it always felt as though there were 2 different worlds. There were commentary shows on television such as late night shows like Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, and political centred shows like Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert. They all commented on culture but it was never what was relevant to me. And radio was never really a concept unless I was in a car which is a very small portion of my life up to this point. There were artist interviews that would happen on radio that I’d watch but I was never going to radio for the cultural commentary.
Now with the rise of podcasts the Joe Budden Podcast has brought the hip hop conversations that I have with my friends to the forefront of cultural commentary. What makes the dynamic interesting is that aside from being a cultural commentary show, there is a sincerity built into the show with the preexisting friendship dynamic of the group. The cast is documented as having been friends in the entertainment industry for the better part of the last decade at least. And that leads to stories being shared about the cast members as well as delving into the conversations male friends have in our modern age. Sometimes it's really “The Real” with dudes. And other times it’s Opie and Anthony with Pusha T.
The Joe Budden Podcast today is what Chris Rock was to the culture in the 90s. Chris Rock got on stage for a cultural moment every time he came out. It was a cultural moment because he was going to discuss the culture. He was going to discuss the hottest song out, what's going on politically, what's going on in hip hop, what's going on with the average man and woman in modern society. And Chris Rock specials moved at the pace of the culture. There was no instant communication with social media and breaking news every 5 seconds. So you could have a Chris Rock special once every year or 2. But with the rapid explosion of cultural events the commentary needed to keep up. And modern problems required a modern solution. And what's more modern than a podcast.
The Joe Budden Podcast gives us Chris Rock specials twice a week averaging 3 hours an episode. That's 6 hours of talking a week, 312 hours of talking a year, they’ve been doing the podcast for 5 years, that's 1,560 hours of talking. Chris Rock has 6 specials averaging at 1 hour and 30 minutes each, that's about 9 hours of talking in 26 years. The Joe Budden Podcast has given my generation our version of the culturally relevant conversations at our pace of information intake.
There’s recurring jokes, stories, nicknames, themes, and arguments. It's also a continuation of the reality show era. Reality shows began in the 2000’s with shows like Survivor and American idol dominating the airways. But there were always shows like Friends or How I Met Your Mother that continued the sitcom model. And then the reality show aspect of television entered the sitcom realm with meta shows like Modern Family, Parks and Rec, and The Office. It was these documentary style multiple camera shows where the characters are aware of the camera but it's still a fictional television show.
The sincerity in the shows relied on the family dynamics of the shows. With shows like Parks and Rec, and The office focusing more on the work family, and Modern Family focusing on the modern family dynamics that couldn’t have existed decades ago. The Joe Budden Podcast continues that evolution into a reality show about modern friendships, within a commentary show. The references to their group chats and their collective inside jokes and arguments add to the sincerity of the show outside of the commentary. So not only are you coming to hear what the cast has to say about the world, you’re also listening to hear what's going on with the characters you are watching evolve. They talk about what's going on in their lives, careers, relationships and their transformations through life.
This show is the most important show in Hip Hop culture since Everyday Struggle with Joe Budden. The show is still great with DJ Akademiks and Wayno but the chemistry and dynamic Joe and Akademiks had was a tidal wave. It created a conversation that united 2 different perspectives that have existed for a long time within Hip Hop. Hip hop as an art form is an evolving culture. As younger people begin to rebel against the norms of previous generations, they’ll change the styles, flows, clothes and everything in between, until it comes back. Culture is cyclical that way.
At one point Ice T got at Soulja Boy for what Ice T thought was killing the culture. But what he wasn’t aware of was that the culture wasn’t dying, it was transforming. Because my whole generation was loving what Soulja Boy was doing. And that dichotomy has existed through the history of the art form going all the way back to Tupac and KRSOne. But Joe Budden and Akademiks were able to bring that dynamic to the forefront and have those conversations about these 2 sides of the conversation. Joe represented the older crowd that wanted to preserve the core essence of the art form and Akademiks represented the youthful transformation movement that was happening in 2016-2017 with the arrival of the coloured hair, pill popping, lean drinking soundcloud rappers.
The conversations they were having were uniting the generational gap that had been present in hip hop for decades at that point. And it was culturally relevant, explosive and instantly created a mark on the culture. Due to various contractual disagreements, Joe left the show and eventually signed a deal with Spotify for his podcast. The Podcast is not the same as Everyday Struggle in terms of content and dynamics, but it's still as culturally relevant if not even more relevant. Because aside from just Hip Hop culture they discuss politics, sports, music, Netflix, stand up and Twitter. They are on the pulse of what's “cool” as well as entertaining and sincere. Just like The Source magazine, Arsenio Hall or 106 & Park every generation has what it will remember as its peak of cultural relevance and I believe The Joe Budden Podcast overshadows most commentary shows today.