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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.

Then I left high school, I became a legitimate independent artist-entrepreneur, as much as we hate that word. As icky as it sounds, it’s true. I have to pay money from my own pockets to fund various legitimate investments and people, the artistry is backed by so much business just to exist. That’s the truth of every single artist in any medium, we’re all looking for ways to scale our brands and grow, we are legitimate independent entrepreneurs, but that’s like a curse word in the art space, so I see how to an audience attached to that image, a guy like Joe keeps getting misunderstood & viewed as sociopathic, but at this age & in my current circumstance, I tend to understand him.

An owner's job is never done. The life of an entrepreneur is not glamorous. Its many grueling hours of hard work. An entrepreneur's job doesn’t end after 8 hours of work. Entrepreneurs work around the clock, they are constantly thinking about their business, having multiple sleepless nights constantly looking for ways to grow it, optimize it & constantly getting it closer to the final vision. The boss is constantly looking at how to create a better product, effectively execute new ideas, finding new ways to monetize & expand, all in hopes of achieving this fleeting glimpse that was the original spark.

Entrepreneurship has various harsh realities & implications, bouts of loneliness, stress, anxiety, trust issues, not seeing your family, friends & loved ones for long periods of time, it's a sacrificial means for an end that’s only worth it, if it’s worth it, & if you think it's worth it, you wouldn't conceptualize going on strike, stopping or creating a bad product because of money issues.

Joe Budden has to care about the pod more than anyone else, he’s not just coming in to talk to his friends twice a week, he’s always doing things to grow the brand, in order to achieve his dreams & feed people. Rory & Mal have both said they have no intention of building a podcast network, they kept saying their issues weren’t about money & how they were more focused on preserving the friendship than expanding the business.

It would be more romantic if all of our favourite content creators were just floating in the ether, unattached to any value, but all of our favourite YouTubers, Podcasters, Tik Tokers, humans, you name it, they’re all profiting. Rory & Mal get paid from the JBP, it’s a legitimate business, & Joe was speaking as the boss, Rory & Mal don’t have as much stake in the business of the Joe Budden Network as Joe does, emotionally or financially.

Mal kept saying the beef “wasn’t about money” but he kept talking about money & accounting. Society imposes a certain negative light on artists who “do it for the money.” NOBODY does it for the money, until they start getting some money, then they’re doing it for money. Some of the greatest art ever made has also made a lot of money. Breaking Bad is a trillion dollar industry, and it’s only growing, you’re not gonna tell me it’s not the greatest show of all time.

Andy Warhol once said being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. This idea of art without value is puritanical. All art is infinitely valuable, and great art is the most valuable, and should be valued at the highest amount.

I’m not absolving Joe from blame, this situation could have been handled in a much better way, it didn’t need them to start defaming each other's characters publicly, devaluing each other & tearing each other down. We are all fans of everyone involved and it hurts seeing something you love come down to this. This brings up many questions about Joe Budden's leadership skills, transparency in business, setting boundaries, & a whole host of other issues that as an entrepreneur I’m learning from, avoiding & applying in my life.

As a boss you need to know people’s strengths, weaknesses, goals, aspirations, & perspective, at all times. You have to know that no one else is capable of caring about your vision as much as you, but you also have to trust others & put the best people in positions to execute your vision in the best possible way, because you can't do it all by yourself. Leaders have to understand that the best way to fulfil their own interest is to be concerned about the welfare of everyone on their team, your employees should never be so disgruntled they ask to fight you on air, there should also be no doubt about who the leader is. You have to manage personalities & so much more that you don’t really think of when you’re first starting out with friends, especially in the content creation business. Podcasting, vlogging & these new forms of content blur the lines over what's real & what's for show.

Podcasting is one of those things that everyone thinks they can do. It has the same deceitful demeanor as stand up, everyone thinks they’re going to be hilarious because they’re really funny around their friends at the bar. Every guy around my age range has had the “bro we should start a podcast” conversation with their best friends. Joe Budden is an artist at speaking, that is a difficult skill to attain.

Guys like Joe Rogan & Joe Budden make podcasting look easy because they are masters. Podcasting is the art of oration, you have to be a masterful speaker to be able to maintain people's attention for 3+ hours multiple times a week. As a person who has a podcast I will admit how hard it is.

Season 1 of our podcast is insane. I had a vision for this really cool underground podcast about music, movies, wrestling, art, philosophy & social issues & I recruited my brother because running a one person podcast for multiple hours seemed difficult. My brother & I were 19 and 17, and we decided to start recording some of our usual Hip Hop conversations. At first we were saying crazy things because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do, the audio is raw & grainy because we used a $50 mic, set it up in front of us in the basement, sat on a mattress on the floor, and started going insane. You could hear the laundry machine in the background, you would hear my mom yell at us, you could hear when someone flushes, it was just extremely ghetto, fun & in the beginning, we had no clue what we were doing.

Speaking in the living room & speaking next to a mic are two completely different animals. Being recorded makes people act differently in general, but now you have to state your opinions, you’re worried about the audience, being boring, you’re worried about shock value & authenticity, you’re thinking about the comments, you’re thinking about audio quality. We didn’t have guests at first, we just had our opinions. We decided to just be honest and have fun because the greatest podcasters make you feel like you’re just watching a genuine conversation be had. The worst podcasters make you feel like you’re watching a podcast. By that I mean, it sounds like people that heard podcasting was the thing to do & decided to do it.

There’s a lane for every celebrity with an audience to jump into, and many of these people aren’t built for the space. There are people who are masterful practitioners in other fields, but then podcasting just doesn’t work for them. A lot of podcasts are boring, a lot of podcasts are actually radio shows, podcasting is a whole other audience, and there’s a select few people that are masterful speakers, Joe Budden being one of those people.

The reason Oprah Winfrey is worth the amount of money she is worth is because she is a gifted orator. Her tonality, her intonation, her engaging demeanor, her ability to be genuinely curious when engaging another person. It truly feels like she is invested and interested in whoever is sitting next to her and that’s a gift.

Not everyone is able to master discourse and rhetoric. Joe Rogan, H3H3, Joe Budden, the reason these podcasts are big isn’t just because of the guests, it’s not just because of the information you can get, even though all of that does help, it’s because this person is great at talking.

The greatest podcasts are just honest perspectives that pull us away from the tranquilized existence that mainstream media pushes out. It's honest conversations, outside of political correction and what’s “appropriate” into authentic & genuine. It's not just shock for shocks sake either, that gets old quick. It's about mastering conversation, having insightful dialogue by drawing from your perspective, and adding something to the conversation. If done right, podcasting can change the world.

After you watch a good podcast, or the Joe Budden Podcast at its best, you leave feeling something, you leave more inspired or better informed, you’re able to take on the world more competently due to the information you gained, or the feeling you got from this dialogue. At the very least, you were entertained.

Most podcasts don’t do that. Most podcasts are dreadfully boring. Most podcasts lack substance. You can feel the corporate executive demeanor that most podcasters give when speaking, there’s this monotonous tone they feel the need to adopt, or a fake voice or something.

But the reason a guy like Joe Budden is as big as he is through all these years is because of this man's dedication, passion, love for words & work ethic. Through Covid, through various disputes with billion dollar corporations, this guy has not taken a break. He had multiple deals with different networks to grow his brand equity & generate income to pay for his show, from appearances on Love & Hip Hop, State of The Culture & Everyday Struggle, Joe has been consistently building the Joe Budden brand as a staple in media for years now. He dedicates his life to the craft, he’s a real artist & entrepreneur, as an art form. He really wants to speak in the best possible way & create the best content every time he speaks in order to grow the JBP. He starts telling stories & speaks in the third person, has repeating themes & goes on epic rants, it’s nuts because it’s an art.

There’s a place where business, art & friendship collide & you have to check everyone's dedication level. Is this everyone's life’s work? Do you think you’re fulfilling your destiny every time you do it? Is it your legacy? For Rory & Mal the friendship is more important, which is an admirable trait, but Joe's first & last name is on the building.

Joe Budden is placing the bricks in place for the empire he sees in his brain, he’s not the same guy from Episode 1 of the podcast, they’ve made more money, the audience is much bigger, everyone’s older, life has continued, they all got married, engaged or had kids, it’s not going to be friends goofing around all the time. Joe is trying to build a legitimate media network & he is the man at the helm of the ship. He is solely responsible for the future of the podcast & the network, & unfortunately sometimes that means the friendships have to suffer.

Mal's brother Biggs was involved in a very similar situation during the infamous Roc-A-Fella Records split with Jay Z & Dame Dash. Every man walks his own way & has his own life, each man had to develop his own path in this life, all three men had visions they stuck to that led them in different paths. Most people said the same thing about Jay Z then, that they are saying about Joe now, but Jay Z is the owner of RocNation & Tidal today because he had a plan & stuck to it.

If there’s an accounting issue it will eventually be resolved, but Joe Budden will continue to build the network, regardless of the friendship recovering, because he has a vision that no one on Earth shares for himself. This doesn’t mean I think Joe should be allowed to rob Rory & Mal like a record label just because he wants to be a mogul, but it does mean he can’t stop the show because his co-hosts decided to go on strike, feel emotional or disrespected, because if they cared as much as him, striking for 8 weeks wouldn’t even be an option, this would all be worked out behind the scenes. Ownership means constant recalibration, assessment & progress. It means constantly checking on everyone on the team, their level of dedication, where they are, & if they understand & support the final vision, where you're going & what it’s going to take to get there.

I am invested in Joe Budden as an artist & am interested in seeing where he’s able to take his talents. I hope his relationship with Rory & Mal can be repaired and the fellas come back to do the podcast. Part of me hopes this is all part of some elaborate roll out, but my doubts grow by the day. I would definitely wanna see where Rory & Mal end up respectively, I think all three of these men are talented, I can also see Joe's side as an independent owner & some of the harsh realities that come with that life.


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