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The Joe Budden Podcast: The Art, Friendship, Business-Complex

I am an outspoken fan of the Joe Budden Podcast. I’ve been watching from 2016 to this day, & I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

When I started watching the podcast, I was an aspiring artist in high school, listening to Joe Budden sweating and screaming about Drake’s levels of artistic integrity, it was weird & awesome. I hadn’t seen a podcast like that before, the level of passion Joe exuded for Hip Hop was palpable, even if he was on Adderall at the time.

Joe Budden is a compelling orator, I love listening to his opinions & hearing how his brain works, & his genuine friendship with Rory, Mal & Parks, catapulted the show to unforeseen heights.

In the last article I published about the JBP, I emphasized the friendship between Joe Budden & his co hosts as being this groundbreaking form of transparent & sincere media, with the recurring jokes & themes symbolizing an innovation on the sitcom model of television, & I still stand by that.

Since the last article I published, Joe & friends had a fallout. Rory & Mal didn’t come in to record & they were replaced by frequently mentioned friends of the podcast, Ice & Ish.

At first, as a Stan of the JBP, my instinct was to dislike & hate. Joe is always going against the Labels & big corporations, and now it felt like he was the Labels he’s always fighting against. It looked like he was holding Rory & Mal's masters and prioritizing business over friendship, & his friends were abandoning ship, in the same way he has done with corporations so often throughout his career.

The first podcast featured Savon & Ice. It felt like Joe was trying to Aunt Viv the audience by barely explaining what happened and bringing in whoever was nearest to the microphone. We are all fans of the dynamic, it felt like we were cheated from real answers. Even though Savon's energy was a breath of fresh air, the abrupt change didn’t sit right with many fans. Then a few episodes went by, Joe switched Savon with Ish & the pod was rebirthed.

It wasn’t the same podcast, but it was a good difference. Ice & Ish changed the dynamic of the show, they communicated in a different manner & provided the pod with a certain newfound edge due to Ish & Ice’s supposed lack of industry relationships.

As an avid watcher of the pod, you kind of know who everyone’s major corporate affiliations are & how they’ll argue about them for the most part, so after a while, you can assume that if Jay Z is brought up in conversation, the conversation was going to be very civil, defensive & pleasant, from almost everyone, except maybe Joe.

This tension had been building for years. Apparently Rory was frustrated with some business aspects & that’s why he kept asking to fight Joe on air, Joe made an executive decision & told Rory to stay home for a bit, Mal asked Joe what right he had to suspend Rory & Joe told him it was none of his business, Mal felt disrespected & both Rory & Mal took a leave of absence. They both felt like Joe wasn’t acting like a friend. The reason they felt that way is because Joe wasn’t acting as a friend, he was acting as the guy whose business bears his first & last name. The guy who is funding various shows on his network with his own money & doing various deals with billion dollar conglomerates.

Rory & Mal came back, went on strike again, & Joe Budden proceeded to fire his friends on air. The pair then did a tell-all podcast. There’s still a lot of gray area but the gist is that Rory & Mal felt like Joe was withholding money & refusing to show them the accounting, and they were also upset with him for replacing them, continuing the show, not acting like a friend & not treating them with the respect they felt owed.

Joe Budden prides himself on being an artists-artist. He’s always standing up for the rights of creatives. He’s the Head of Equity for Creatives at Patreon, he’s always yelling at labels & crying over people not owning their masters. Joe’s fight is for the rights of creatives in industries designed against them, & now it seemed like he was acting like the labels, and treating his friends unfairly & like they were replaceable & disposable.

Rory & Mal’s points were valid from an artist's perspective. When we start doing any creative task, it starts off fun. It starts off as a way to hang out around our friends and play around, but once money is introduced, especially in large quantities, there needs to be a level of pragmatism & fiscal responsibility alongside the fun. We constantly need to refocus our energy towards the greater vision. There needs to be contracts, you can’t settle matters in fisticuffs, & you can’t go on strike if you’re the owner.

Joe Budden is no longer just a rapper or podcaster, he is also a corporate entity & a multimillion dollar brand. He is the owner of the Joe Budden Network with employees, pay stubs & contracts. It’s not just friends kickin it anymore, it’s a business that feeds people. Mal kept saying he doesn’t care about podcasting or money, Joe Budden cares about both podcasting & money, because if he doesn’t, people don’t eat. That’s the difference.

The Joe Budden Network is Joe’s life’s work, it's his legacy. When I started watching the Joe Budden Podcast, I would have sided with Rory & Mal. When I was in high school I constantly found jobs just to work with my friends. We didn’t own the building, we didn’t pay for, or own, any of the equipment, we didn’t pay for anything, so when we’d want, we would start playing UNO, we’d play chess, we’d go to the dollar store, we’d skip work, it was only fun as long as it was fun & if it wasn’t, then we’d leave. There was no sense of responsibility to the future of the company, the executive tasks, quality control, human resources, budgeting, different employees, how much the business loses by us goofing around, none of that, we would show up, clock in, clock out & get paid, we weren't owners. We did not care as long as it was fun & we got paid.