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T.O.C.T.M – July ’16

The Only Column That Matters: July 2016. . .


Where do we start this week?  With Donald Trump obviously.  Eh, not really – but let’s talk about the Republican National Convention (or as the cool trust-fund kids call it “The RNC”).   Everyone’s favorite NFL bust, Tim Tebow was rumored to be a speaker at this year’s RNC but Tebow only confirmed that it was indeed just a “rumor.”  Tebow is said to be a future possibility in the Republican party down the line, but man, we’re not promised tomorrow and this would’ve been something we all could’ve enjoyed.  Trump has been accused of turning the presidential race into a circus while Tim Tebow is the ring-leader of any media-driven-circus.  It would’ve been great to see hard-core Christians who support Tebow in everything he does be in the same room as Trump enthusiasts who can sometimes be obnoxiously loud and obtuse.  . .


It’s amazing when rich people just make up their own issues.  We are also in awe when we talk about “power couples” in our country. . . and an American sweetheart.  Well this story has it all.  .  . When Kanye West released his song “Famous” he had the line: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/I made that b*tch famous/ I made that b*tch famous.”  This was of course in reference to pop/country singer Taylor Swift who Kanye West basically told, while she was accepting an award “Shut up, you’re not better than Beyonce.”  After the song was released Taylor was playing the role of the offended-yet-strong-minded-young-woman who looks down on those who must speak to women in such a way. . . As many of us already knew, Taylor was being fake as f…. Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian leaked a video of Kanye speaking to Taylor about the lyrics and her being perfectly fine with it.   Aye, Taylor.  We all kind of knew she was phony already, but to be exposed by Kanye and Kim – eesh, it’d be best if she just lay low for a while.  Swift is set to sue Kanye for illegally recording the conversation, and I’m pretty sure Kim will handle this bill as well. . .


This has nothing to do with nothing, but what’s up with people’s obsession with the beach?  I understand, it’s the “Summer thing” to do and all, but why?  The beach has sand which is arguably the worst substance the Earth has ever created.  I think I still have sand in a Jansport book bag I took to the beach with me three years ago.  When sand is dry it’s hot as all hell and when sand is wet it’s basically mud – why would my feet want any part of that?  The fact that people actually drive to a sandy location, to lay-down in the smoldering heat, then pack everything up and go home after is a baffling series of events to me.   We buy air conditioners and fans in the Summer because the heat is too much.  As soon as you get home from the beach you wash off the disgusting sweat and “beach-smell” off of you and sit in an air-conditioned room.  What’s wrong with you people?


How useless is this four-game suspension put on Tom Brady? According to Pro Football Talk – very useless.  If anything, it just keep Brady “fresher” in the season and might actually increase the Patriots chances of going to the Super Bowl.  You see, the Pats are still -200 favorite to win the AFC East (for you non-gamblers out there, that means in order to win $100, you’d have to risk $200.)  They are also a 6-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl.   The suspension is stupid.  This basically says, in the world of the NFL,  that if Tom Brady hit his wife or was caught doing drugs, it’s the same punishment for deflating a football that nobody can even definitively tell if it gives teams an advantage or not.  Is Tom Brady on Instagram or Twitter?  If he is, he should pull a huge douche move and every Sunday post pictures of him and his wife in bed counting stacks of cash laughing and being the perfect human beings that they are. . .


What’s the score in this Joe Budden versus Drake beef?  Currently, Budden is winning three to a half.  Yes, a half.  But, if nobody hears the beef did the beef even happen?  Exactly.  Although, Budden is lyrically destroying Drake, all the Toronto native has to do is ignore it until it goes away.  It’s an unfair position but it’s the truth.  Drake gives life to Joe Budden if he tries to do a “Back to Back, Pt.2.”  Drake also must know deep inside, this is a battle he can’t win.   It all won’t matter in the end because Drake is killing the game right now with mindless, dance-hall infused, rap (?) music.  .  .


If nobody else will say it, I will: Can we please be done with any and everything that involves future projects with Kevin James?  Yes, on the onset he looks like one of those happy-go-lucky, nice guys you want to have a beer with at a bar, but in reality he’s a class A jackass (allegedly) and his humor has a ceiling.  That ceiling was in “King of Queens” where he shined, even among the talented cast around him.  James is slated to have a new sitcom entitled “Kevin Can Wait.”  He’s apparently a retired officer with a family in this comedy and once again he’s married to a woman who is obviously out of his league (the actress Erinn Hayes).   He’ll be another bumbling, fumbling moron, who’s mindset is simplistic and gets himself into “comedic situations” that he’ll get out of by ways of the “puppy dog eyes and ‘I’m sorry’ routine” or the good ol’ “fat guy got lucky” routine.   The act is tired and so am I, see you guys next month with the next edition of The Only Column That Matters.

G.W. Gras

Check out the podcast “TheOnlyShowThatMatters” on Soundcloud and on the NGSCRadio Network

Twitter @GeeSteelio


Joe Budden Reintroduces Himself

When the name Joe Budden comes up in most hip hop conversations, the words “one-hit-wonder,” are usually associated with him.  If not for his 2003 hit record “Pump It Up” most wouldn’t know who Budden is.  Unless of course you know of him on VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop” and his very public relationships with Ester, Tahiry and Kaylin.  To the underground faithful – or just the Joe Budden fans – though, Budden is considered to be one of hip hop’s true great lyricists.  He has built a dedicated following without the use of mainstream radio due to his independent and mix=tape releases.  Budden’s style has been considered “emo” as he wears his emotions on his sleeve, goes in depth about the pitfalls of his life and does so with brilliant word-play.   With all that being said, Budden has been in the game for over a decade and doesn’t scratch the surface of what is considered to be a “rap superstar.”

Budden has maintained consistency in his product and a little more than a year ago, began his podcast “I’ll Name This Podcast Later.”  The podcast has proven to be successful and at times controversial.  He (along with his podcast partners Marissa Mendez and Rory) have been the subject of social media attacks from other artists such as Meek Mill but it doesn’t stop the show’s continued fan support.   Most recently, Budden was very hard on Drake, an artist who Budden has openly been a fan of on his podcast.  Budden was less-than-enthused with Drake’s last project “Views” and even went as far as saying: “I think that that kid on that album that I heard sounds real fucking uninspired.”  What this did was inspire a slight jab from Drake aimed at the direction of Budden in a snippet of a track released on social media where Drake  mutters the words “pump, pump, pump it up.”   Budden didn’t take this as a “diss” and publicly shrugged it off.  .  .


Then Drake released “4 PM in Calabasas” and Joe Budden combed through the lyrics of this song like a detective thirsty for some evidence:  “All of a sudden I got people showing how much they truly resent me/They whole demeanor just spells envy/they tryna tempt me.”

Budden laid low for a little while and then released a six minute verbal assault on Drake disguised as a song called “Making a Murderer, Pt.1”

The track, produced by Araab Muzik, supplied hip hop with enough ammo to burn through the next couple of weeks, as Budden took slight jabs at Meek Mill and Jay-Z (very slight but if you look back there is actually history there as well) – but the focus is clearly on Drake : “I’m a wordsmith for reall, you thought Quentin was bad/You made me proud, lad, but it seems my child mad/ With all the clout that he grabbed, theres still doubts from his dad.”  Budden has acknowledged before that Drake was a fan of Budden’s and even has ran with some of Budden’s style in the past. . .


Joe Budden truly peppered enough quote-a-bles on this track, I could’ve printed out all the lyrics to the song and the reader would have gotten the point, but these gems should suffice in getting the point across: ” You’re so indirect, shit wasn’t real clear/Either Jimmy actin’ or he really miss a wheelchair. . . .i figure he’s close to his death to know the reaper/in fitted sweats with old sneakers, the flow ether/gassed cause he KO’d Omeeka/no, Joe’s deeper. . .Your words ain’t sayin a thing/I kilogram without weighing a thing/ nigga you baitin’ a king.”  And for those that didn’t get that “kilogram” line – think about it – Kilogram / Kill-a-Graham / Drake’s real name is Aubrey Graham – the boy Budden got lyrics. . .

Now, should Drake respond?  For the sake of hip-hop, yes he should – but in truth, Drake’s best action – career-wise – is to ignore it.  On the grand scheme of things, Budden isn’t in the same stratosphere as Drake.  If Drake ignores “Making A Murderer, Pt. 1” it will be as if the track never existed.   Drake is that big of an artist.


Drake’s fans have taken to social media and have attacked Budden for trying to re-ignite his career by dissing Drake.  There might be some truth to that, but in reality, Budden is a rapper.  This is what rappers do (or at least used to do.)  He isn’t hiding behind subliminal lines or staying off of social media – he never has.  This is what he is.  Other Drake fans have said that the diss-track is altogether weak – which is obviously a blinded opinion.

Budden has done what needed to be done.  Today’s rap artists seem to be too comfortable.  Jump-Off-Joey has just shook the foundation from the top of the totem-pole and people are getting nervous.  Drake has a lot to lose if he comes out flat with a rebuttal record or loses this battle with Budden altogether.  For Budden, he has nothing to lose.  He has already gained a bunch of new listeners though who have been shut-off from the music he’s created over the last few years.


In hip hop, “the battle” is a good-thing.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

“All Love Lost” Album Review

Whether he is recording music, doing a podcast or on reality television – Joe Budden has made himself out to be the most “open book” of a rapper today.   Budden has had a way of keeping listeners engaged with his struggles through addiction, depression and his definition of “love.”   His formula throws many off, and his sound is not one which mainstream hip hop gravitates to, but even the most casual hip hop fan can admire the lyrical prowess that Budden possesses.  “All Love Lost” is the third installment of Budden’s “Love Lost” series following the album “No Love Lost” and the EP “Some Love Lost.”

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 10: Joe Budden of Slaughterhouse at John Ricard Studio on August 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by John Ricard/Getty Images)

Joe Budden’s bread and butter is how he can detail turmoil in a relationship and he sticks to that formula on the album’s lead single “Broke.”  Because Budden has been very public throughout his career when it comes to the women in his life, every song about a female leaves the listeners wondering who it could be that he’s talking about.  As entertaining as “Broke” is, it seems more like a song that was made to be the single then to actually fit in causing it to stick out of the bunch.

The album opens with Joe Budden and frequent R&B collaborator, Emanny on “All Love Lost” and it details the sound which provides the canvas for the album.  Pianos, strings and guitars all played in dramatic sequences while Budden is seemingly on cruise control, riding the track at his own pace, never rushing through his story.   It’s here that Budden speaks on his frustrations with his fan base, who didn’t respond well to his last album which had features from more mainstream artists like Wiz Khalifa and French Montana.  The meaning of the album is true in it’s intro as Budden seems to have lost faith in the idea of love, whether it be within the music industry, women or love for himself.

“Playing Our Part” gives us insight to how Budden deals with this on again/ off again relationships.   At the end Budden comes to the realization that he has been involved with the same kind of self-indulgent personalities, but he can’t turn away from temptation: “Nowadays they all the same / Enhanced body parts, smaller brains
They don’t get a hi in fact/ Mums the word, baby girl, it’s now quiet for that/ If you got nothin’ to offer, sorry Mrs. Jackson, gotta off ya/a
But as soon as you leave ’em alone /It’s when they send that same text to the phone (like ‘what’s up’).”


“Love, I’m Good” is a track that stands out as one of the more emotional tracks as Joe speaks on his frustrations with hip hop, Tahiry (we assume) and his son.  He speaks on hip hop as a girl who has changed and fallen prey to the world around her (“now I see her with Young Thug and Future, like what did you n*gg@s do to her?”).  He still has bars for days when it comes to Tahiry (“You threaten every girl I’m with, that just confuses me/Say you want kids real soon, now that’s abuse to me/And I just write about it in song, you’re like a muse to me”).  The song’s final verse is one that tugs at the heartstrings though, as he talks about his son, who at this point in his life looks at his father with discontent.  Budden has spoken about custody battles for his son before and continues here and even tries to relate to his son : “I was you 20 years ago when pop popped up/But nothin’ like you, sad how life’ll recycle a cycle/ You missin’ intel only a dad can give/
Can’t expect you to understand, this doesn’t matter to a kid. . .”


A disappointing track was “Make it Through the Night.”  It’s disappointing because it features a very uninspiring verse from Jadakiss, who is usually on-point when it comes to his guest features. . . The track is nothing new on a general music level either as it’s just one of those “hopefully I’ll get outta the hood” tracks.    “Immortal” wastes a strong hook which rides over an uneventful beat, produced by Boi-1da and Vinvyl.  Joe also blatantly uses the same very distinct flow that is used on the album’s single “Broke.”  The funny thing about “Immortal” is that although the song itself is uninspiring – this is  the Joe Budden sound.  Budden can sometimes just ramble from one topic to another so effortlessly, the listener at times can get lost in the whirlwind of emotions and topics being thrown at them in a sometimes unorganized fashion.

“Unnecessary Pain” is a gem on the album, that may get lost in the shuffle.  Here, Budden details how he is so ruined inside that he knows that any female who comes in contact with him will most likely get hurt: “I see your life from afar and something’s off with it/It’s my fault and shit, I shoulda never altered it/I sold a dream when you couldn’t have known the cost of it/Knew my love came with a pain and I still offered it.”  Budden goes off on another tangent again, but this time it is seamless and an easy transition as he looks at his mortality in music.  Being that he is one of those that puts out emotional LP, after emotional LP it seems to be draining him, but at the same time, he does it because it’s what his fans want: “And to the fans that I once gave my life for . . . I gotta tell you that there’s not much left in me / Yeah and not that it’s growin’ old/ But years of bearin’ my soul is takin’ it’s toll. ..”

“Man Down” and “Slaughtermouse” display a slightly more aggressive Joe Budden.  “Man Down” is Budden firing shots at people who are praying for him to fail, or even worse.  Budden makes a point in saying how he has been tried in every direction but he’s still around and knows he’s garnered hate from all different people from different walks of life because of the life he displays and accusations laid out before the public. . . “I’ve been more than a leader, even with my back to the wall/Thought I was finished forever when I was practicin’ falls/Now you second guessin’ yourself, you gotta ask what you saw/They fishin’, wishin’ it’s fiction, but ain’t no actin’ at all.” 

“Slaughtermouse” was leaked online before the album was released and most took it as a shot to Eminem for not helping elevate the status of Slaughterhouse – the four man rap group comprised of Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked-I and Royce, which is on Eminem’s Shady Records.  It was far from a shot at Eminem, it was more praise to someone he respects.  In that respect Budden details that they barely know each other although they’ve been through similar misfortunes in life.  Once again Joe’s vulnerability is displayed: “But different times, I was feelin’ like the odd man out/Like I should leave, they’d be better with the odd man out/Like when I wasn’t on that intro, I felt a little weird/ But that was for the team, so I didn’t really care. . .”


One wouldn’t be wrong in calling Joe Budden one of, or even the most, emotional rapper  in hip hop.  In serious circles, you won’t even get much argument that he is one of the game’s best lyricist either.  Joe is in a weird spot though.  He has a loyal fan base who wants the “emo” music, which he has mastered the delivery of, but it also has him in his own bubble as an artist.  All he knows, is how to air out his dirty laundry in public, and he does it brilliantly.  He just needs to find different ways to do it, so it doesn’t sound like the same story, coming from the same place every time.

Rating: 7 out of 10

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Some Love Lost Album Review

Joe Budden has been called a lot of things.  “Emo,” “One Hit Wonder,” “Crybaby” and even at times “soft.”  Although the latter is more of an insult than an actual analyzation – the other titles he’s been given have some kind of validity.  Lyrically, Budden cannot be denied.  He is beyond the punch lines and a “hot 16” – he’s learned how to carefully create short stories and bear his heart on his sleeve in the process.  Budden’s popularity is always a theory for debate as it seems although he has his own fan-base there are also a large group of hip hop fans who aren’t necessarily “fans” but are just intrigued by Joe Budden, the person. Continue reading Some Love Lost Album Review